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Except for 'near riot,' Black Friday was pretty normal

November 25, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Aside from some pushy shoppers at Circuit City and Prime Outlets at Hagerstown on Friday morning, many Washington County retailers and police agencies reported a normal Black Friday.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Chad Woodring said a "near riot" broke out at Circuit City at the Centre at Hagerstown as sale-seeking shoppers waited for the doors to open.

Woodring said a group of people waiting in line at the store's doors became upset when those waiting in their cars rushed the doors as the store opened for business between 4:30 and 5 a.m.

Woodring said no arrests were made, but said officers reported bottles were being "thrown back and forth." He could not say whether the bottles were plastic or glass.

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James Hornsby, store manager at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at the Centre at Hagerstown, said his customers heard about what happened at Circuit City, but experienced no shopping altercations themselves.

Off-duty Hagerstown Police Department officers stood at the store's entrances around the time the store held its sale, from 5 to 11 a.m., he said.

"We've learned to be organized - as organized as we can get," he said. "The last thing we want to do is see someone get hurt."

Hornsby said people lined up for the sale to begin, but generally were cordial while they shopped.

"It brings out the good in people and the bad in people sometimes," he said.

Brian Kaltenbaugh, marketing director of Valley Mall, said stores reported nothing unusual during Black Friday, a day that brought in 53,000 shoppers by 2:30 p.m. He said a typical Friday brings in between 20,000 and 30,000 shoppers. On Saturdays, the mall normally sees about 35,000 shoppers, he said.

"Everybody was very patient, line control was great, there were no altercations, no big disputes over gifts, so really, it seemed like a very well-organized morning," he said.

Kaltenbaugh said the mall's big stores opened at either 4:30 or 5 a.m. He said it appeared shoppers staggered their visits to the mall Friday.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Todd Kerns said deputies handled a few shoplifting complaints at the mall, something he said is not unusual.

Deputies also were on hand to handle crowd control at Prime Outlets when it opened its doors at midnight, and although there were some "scuffles," they made no arrests, he said.

Maryland State Police Cpl. Todd Weaver said traffic was fairly normal for a Black Friday. Of the three accidents handled by 3 p.m., "two of them were very minor," he said.

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