Black Friday could be one of our country’s darkest days.
The shopping holiday is a favorite for bargain hunters, but for many, it’s one of the most dangerous outings — and the outcomes can be gruesome.
Between 2006 and 2018, according to the Hustle, 44 Black Friday incidents in America left 11 dead and 109 injured — including one man who brought home a shattered hip after being shoved into a shelf of cut-rate presents.
There’s even an entire website devoted to tragedies on the commerce holiday, called Black Friday Death Count, which documents some of the worst melees.
Danger be damned, customers are willing to put up with it so long as the sales are on. In 2018, stores raked in $6.2 billion in the single day, according to Digital Trends.
Here are some lowlights from more than a decade of holiday-season shopping violence.
The first dark day
In 2008, a Walmart employee on Long Island was trampled to death when more than 2,000 enthusiastic gift-grabbers busted through the store’s front door and could not be contained. This marks Black Friday’s first stampede fatality.
They didn’t make it past the parking lot
In 2016, two people were shot in the parking lot of a South Jersey shopping mall. One died and the other was injured. But it was far from the only parking lot shoot-up. Four years earlier, two people in Tallahassee, Florida, were shot over a parking spot. Adding insult to injury, the victims never even made it into the mall for Black Friday savings.
The pepper spray incident
There were no deaths, but 20 were injured in North Carolina when an off-duty cop reportedly began pepper-spraying shoppers in 2011, NBC News reported. “He was raining it over the whole crowd,” a witness said. “Some of it got my granddaughter in her face and eyes, and she had to go to the emergency room because she is asthmatic.” Fellow cops seemingly covered for him by describing the “raining” as a “puff of pepper spray.”
Gun crazy in Texas
Judging by the outcome of a Walmart parking-lot argument in San Antonio, Black Friday is the wrong day to be a good Samaritan. According to The Washington Post, in 2016, Isidro Zarate saw a man pulling a woman’s hair. He told the guy to “take your hands off her.” The hair-puller complied, only to reach for his gun and murder Zarate.
The wrong look
One final lesson for those brave enough to shop on Black Friday: Keep your eyes to yourself. Following this advice might have prevented a man from being shot at a mall in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a shopper last year had the temerity to check out an “attractive woman.” Outside the mall, he got knocked out and shot by the woman’s beau. An overexcited spectator then pulled out his own gun and began shooting. The paper reported that it was unclear if the man was shooting at the brawlers or just into the air.