Cops in riot gear break up mall crowd wanting Nike shoes
Updated On: Feb 24 2012 07:45:35 PM EST
About 1,000 shoppers that gathered for a shoe release at an Orlando mall late Thursday became out of control, prompting deputies in riot gear to disperse the crowd.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said 200 deputies went to the Florida Mall about 9:45 p.m. because of the crowd, which became unruly after Foot Locker canceled the release of the limited-edition Nike Air Foamposite One "Galaxy" shoes. The $220 purple and blue sneakers are made from an extra-durable material and glow in the dark.
After one man started running toward the door, everyone followed, creating a chaotic scene. Store employees became concerned and called 911.
"Everyone's going to trample each other. Little kids got pushed to the ground over there," said J.T. Knowles, detailing the rush of the crowd.
"Due to the overwhelming turnout at the midnight shoe release, and with everyone's safety in mind, Foot Locker canceled the shoe debut," Florida Mall General Manager Lydia Gilmore said in a statement.
Nike followed suit by canceling the shoe release at several stores.
"Due to safety concerns, we are canceling the All-Star releases this weekend at the following Foot Locker House of Hoops stores: Florida Mall, Pembroke Mall, University Mall in Tampa, Southlake Mall and PG Plaza. Our priority is the safety of the community," Nike said in a statement.
Deputies on horseback and in patrol cruisers cleared the crowd from the mall for safety reasons. Shoppers told Local 6 News that authorities threatened to "gas them" if they didn't leave.
"It was crazy," a woman said while describing the police presence.
No one was injured, but three people were arrested in connection to the incident. Deputies said Glen Martin, 43, and Andre Williams, 20 were arrested last night and charged with trespassing. Dicy Robinson, 23, was arrested Friday morning and charged with trespassing and resisting an officer, deputies said.
Some said the store could have prevented the chaos by issuing wrist bands.
"(The store should have said) nobody can camp out there overnight, nobody can come first-come, first-serve. Instead, we all have to race from the back of the parking lot to the front of the parking lot in record time," a shopper said.
Despite the fact that the store, mall and Nike have said the sneaker will not be released this weekend, dozens of shoppers hoping to purchase a pair of the $220 shoes remained outside the mall early Friday. Groups rushed the store around 5 a.m. and again at 6:30 a.m., but they were quickly dispersed. Around 7 a.m., mall management allowed the shoppers to form a line outside the mall.
A similar issue occurred Thursday night at the University Mall in Tampa.
An NBA All-Star event was also being held at the mall Thursday night, but deputies do not believe the two events were related. The All-Star game is being played Sunday at the Amway Center in Orlando.
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