Black Friday: Crowds, Chaos, Confusion

By: Brian Mastre, Jodi Baker Email
By: Brian Mastre, Jodi Baker Email

Shoppers lined up around the Nebraska Furniture Mart hours before its 6 a.m. Black Friday opening while other retailers opened up much earlier. Some stores, including Wal-Mart and Sears, kicked off their holiday shopping season at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Among the fastest deals out the door at the Nebraska Furniture Mart were a laptop for $169.99 and a 50-inch flat screen for $399.99. The store also offered 32-inch LCD televisions for between $169.99 and $199.99, depending on the brand.

The first customer in line said he'd been waiting since 8 a.m. Thursday. He walked out within an hour of the store's opening with a full cart and a smile.

No problems were reported with crowds there, however, there were a couple of scares at Omaha shopping malls.

Sixty stores inside Westroads opened at midnight. Around 1 a.m., a fight broke out inside that tipped over a garbage can and metal signs that clanked off the marble floor, which to some shoppers sounded like gunfire. Police were called in to investigate.

"That was insane," said shopper Sadie Blankenship. "We got pushed to the back of American Eagle and everyone was just freaking out, then Westroads just cleared out."

“We just got up to the checkout and all of a sudden people started running into the store and then people started screaming about a shooter in the building,” said Lisa Keres of Omaha, who along with her two teenage daughters, ran out of Younkers to their car, unsure of what was happening.

Richards Schroeder

Twenty-two-year-old Darell Richards, who was involved in the fight, was booked for disorderly conduct. Westroads management said shopping resumed a short time later.

A few hours later, 19-year-old Nicholas Schroeder was booked in a separate incident at Westroads for trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing.

Twenty-one-year-old Chalonda Jenkins was booked for shoplifting, assault, disorderly conduct and criminal impersonation after being taken into custody at the Oak View Mall. She also had three misdemeanor warrants.

Security said Jenkins used pepper spray on them and an employee at Icing just after 2:30 a.m. The commotion surrounding her arrest led some to believe shots had been fired, but that also was not the case.

After the chaos, one family decided to make the best of it several hours later. “We're going to go back today and have fun to make something good out of something bad that happened,” said Keres.

Two women got into a fight during Black Friday shopping at Lincoln's Gateway Mall. Police were called to a Younkers store at Gateway Mall on Friday morning. A 30-year-old woman told police that she'd been punched in the left eye, shattering her glasses.

The woman who allegedly punched her told police the two had gotten into a shoving match after the victim started ducking under tables and cutting in line to get bargains. Neither shopper was arrested. Police didn't see any major injuries.

A store representative declined to comment.

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