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Valley Mall locked down after crowd awaiting sneaker release becomes unruly

February 04, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Valley Mall was locked down and temporarily evacuated Saturday morning after more than 100 people became unruly while they were waiting to buy a new Nike sneaker at the Foot Locker shoe store, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

About 15 officers from the sheriff’s office, Maryland State Police and Hagerstown Police Department responded to the store after they received a call at 8:10 a.m. that roughly 100 patrons had created a disturbance while waiting in front of the store for the release of the new Nike Foam sneaker, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

When officers arrived, they discovered that 100 to 150 people were involved.

“Apparently, a lot of people had been waiting a long time and people started butting in line,” said Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, who was among the officers responding to the scene.

Police said some of the patrons claimed they had been in line waiting to buy the shoes since 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Mullendore said that after the mall was evacuated and locked down, patrons who were waiting to buy the shoes were escorted into the store a few at a time.

He said no one was arrested because officers couldn’t identify the instigators.

“It was impossible to tell who the aggressors were,” he said. “There was just a lot of hollering and that type of thing when we got there.”

A Foot Locker employee told police that the store had 90 pairs of the shoes in stock, the release said. The employee said the shoes were sold out by 10 a.m.

The manager of the Foot Locker at Valley Mall declined to comment, and a message left at Foot Locker’s corporate headquarters was not immediately returned.

Mullendore said some of the people who were involved in the disturbance came from Washington, D.C.

When rare shoes are released to the public, people commonly buy them at a store, then sell them for a higher price over the Internet, Mullendore said.

He said the Nike Foam, which costs more than $200, could fetch more than $500 online.

The mall reopened without further incident at 10 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.

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