The chaotic shopping scene spun out control when a man waiting in line for discounted cellphones fell into a display, which incited off-duty police officers to fire pepper spray into the crowd.
“He was raining it over the whole crowd so that it will rain down on their heads. Some of it got on my granddaughter in her face and eyes and she had to go to the emergency room because she’s asthmatic,” said the man arrested during the melee in an interview with local news channel WNCT.
Black Friday shopper Angel Bunting told NBC-affiliate WITN that at least 20 shoppers were affected by the pepper spray. WITN reported that Bunting said “people were standing in line for cell phones marked down from $200 to $35 when a man fell onto the display.” She believed it was an accident, but security thought there was a fight.
UPDATE: Kinston authorities dispute shopper accounts and are telling NBC News that “they only fired a single “puff” of pepper spray when a large group of people tried to grab products before Wal-Mart employees were finished putting the items on display.”
An officer sprayed “a puff” of pepper spray in the air to have the crowd “regain composure,” police said. They told NBC News that none of the substance was sprayed into anyone’s eyes or face and that no one requested medical attention.
Watch footage of the pepper spray-inundated customers covering their mouths below:
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