UPDATE — Via MSNBC:
Violence erupted at Black Friday sales across the U.S. with one bargain-hunter left critically injured after being shot during a robbery and 15 other people injured when an angry shopper used pepper spray.
Several of the incidents took place at Wal-Mart stores as millions of Americans loaded up on holiday purchases.
Update 11:57 a.m. ET: An off-duty police officer used pepper spray on shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Kinston, N.C.
Kinston police Sgt. Roland Davis said an off-duty officer whom the store had hired to help with security used the chemical while trying to make an arrest during a disturbance. Unconfirmed reports said as many as 20 peopl ewer affected.
Updated 10:55 a.m. ET: A Rome, N.Y., man was charged with disorderly conduct after a fight that broke out the moment Black Friday shopping began at midnight, NBC station WSTM of Syracuse, N.Y., reported.
Several shoppers at the electronics department at a Wal-Mart store were pushed to the ground, and several fights broke out, Oneida County sheriff’s deputies said. Two shoppers were taken to a hospital for minor injuries.
Updated 10:39 a.m. ET: Police said they were investigating a possible shooting in the parking lot of Valley West Mall in West Des Moines, Iowa, NBC station WHO reported. There was no immediate report that anyone was injured.
Police got a call of shots fired shortly before 4 a.m., when the mall opened. They wouldn’t say whether they had a suspect, and they reassured shoppers that the mall is safe..
Updated 9:50 a.m. ET: A 55-year-old shopper was shot and wounded during a robbery near a Wal-Mart in Myrtle Beach, S.C., NBC station WMBF reported.
Tonia Robbins, 55, was shot in the foot after two men demanded her purse shortly after 1 a.m. ET Friday as she stood by the trunk of her car with friends.
Updated 9:45 a.m. ET: An explosive device was found at a break room at a Wal-Mart in Cave Creek, Ariz., according to reports Friday.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said a suspicious package was found inside a refrigerator in the store break room on Thursday. The store was evacuated as a precaution while deputies investigated the package.
Updated at 9:40 a.m. ET: A Black Friday shopper was shot and critically injured during a robbery outisde a Wal-Mart in San Leandro, Calif., early Friday, police said.
Police patrolling the parking lot found a victim suffering a gunshot wound and a possible suspect being detained by family members of the victim.
Police said the victims were walking to their car with their purchases and were approached by multiple suspects who demanded the merchandise.
A fight ensued and one suspect pulled out a gun and shot one of the victims. Some of the victims wrestled down one suspect as the other suspect fled the scene.
The victim who was shot is in critical but stable condition at a local hospital. The suspect in custody is an adult male in his mid ’20s, but it is not known if he was the shooter.
Updated at 7.30 a.m. ET: An angry woman used pepper spray when Black Friday bargain-hunters tried to cut in line at a crowded Wal-Mart store in Los Angeles late Thursday, leaving 15 people with minor injuries. The incident occurred shortly after 10:20 p.m. PT (1:20 a.m. ET Friday) in the San Fernando Valley as shoppers looking for deals were let inside the outlet.
Shawn Lenske, a Los Angeles fire department spokesman, said the injuries were due to “rapid crowd movement.”
Video uploaded to youTube shows shopper recovering after one woman allegedly doused them in pepper spray as they battled for bargains at a Walmart in Los Angeles. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.
NBC News reported police said no more than 15 were hurt, 10 of them for the effects of inhalation of pepper spray.
Police Lt. Abel Parga said a woman used pepper spray, then left. Parga said police were looking for the woman and no arrests have been made.
“It was an unhappy customer,” he said.
A witness told Los Angeles’ NBC4 that the incident started as people waited in line for the new Xbox 360.
Read more at MSNBC
Two incidents of Black Friday violence we’re following, the first one in Los Angeles via HuffingtonPost:
LOS ANGELES — A woman shot pepper spray to keep shoppers from merchandise she wanted during a Black Friday sale, and 20 people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.
The incident occurred shortly after 10:20 p.m. Thursday in a crowded Los Angeles-area Walmart as shoppers hungry for deals were let inside the store.
Police said the suspect shot the pepper spray when the coverings over the items she wanted were removed.
“Somehow she was trying to use it to gain an upper hand,” police Lt. Abel Parga told The Associated Press early Friday.
And the second in North Carolina via Associated Press:
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Authorities say gunfire erupted at a North Carolina mall as holiday shoppers gathered, though there are no reports of any injuries.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says detectives are looking for two suspects after gunfire rang out at Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville early Friday.
The first shots were fired around 2 a.m. outside the mall near a food court entrance. Investigators say several more shots were fired after one of the suspects ran inside the mall.
Black Friday is important to merchants because it kicks off the holiday shopping season, a time when they can make 25 to 40 percent of their annual revenue. It’s expected that shoppers will spend nearly $500 billion during the holiday shopping season, or about 3 percent more than they did last year.
We’ll keep you updated on any further incidents.