Denise Williams reported yesterday on the tragic trampling death of Jdimytai Damour at a Wal-Mart in Long Island. Shoppers crushed into the store as it opened, knocking the 34 year-old store employee and stampeding over him.
Today, police say that they are trying to identify the shoppers responsible for Damour's death, and that charges in the death are possible. From AP:
"This crowd was out of control," Det. Lt. Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.
Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.
It will be difficult to isolate those responsible, police say.
I'm sure that the picture will become clearer as time passes. The fact that the police say there wasn't enough security at the store doesn't bode well for Wal-Mart. The fact that they posted a sign that said "Blitz Line Starts Here" also looks bad in hindsight. Retailers have been using terms like "doorbusters" for several years now to create excitement about these sales, a strategy they should revisit.
None of this, however, mitigates, even slightly, the actions of the people in that crush of humanity which claimed Damour's life. This isn't a case where huge crowds of people met with unexpected barriers, like the 1979 Who concert tragedy. The threat was created solely by the mob's desire to secure a good deal on Guitar Hero II. How brazen and callous was this crowd? According to the AP's video report, they even jostled first responders who were trying to treat Damour. Then, there was this:
"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" (a witness) said. "They kept shopping."
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