Shoppers pitch tents hours before Black Friday midnight openings

With the promise of steep discounts, hundreds of customers packed the Empire Center at midnight on Black Friday, some even pitched tents hours before the doors opened.

More than 500 shoppers were in line for Best Buy, while a similar amount waited outside Target. The parking lot was near capacity as shoppers pushed carts filled to the brim with flat screen TVs, stereo equipment and other electronics.

It was a familiar scene at big-box stores throughout the region, but there were reports of violence among impatient shoppers. At a Walmart in Porter Ranch, a woman reportedly pepper sprayed customers in an attempt to cut through the crowds. About 20 people, including children,  complained of minor skin and eye irritation and sore throats.

Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga told the Los Angeles Times that the 10:10 p.m. incident was a case of "customer-versus-customer 'shopping rage.'"

As of 7 a.m., there were no immediate reports of "shopping rage" at major retail centers in Burbank and Glendale, where many stores opened at midnight for the first time.


The clock strikes Black Friday early

-- Jason Wells and Ross Benson, Times Community News

Twitter: @JasonBretWells

Photo: Shoppers outside Best Buy in tents, some of which were pitched a day before the midnight store opening. Credit: Ross Benson

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