Two people were shot in Florida, a handgun was brandished in Texas, and a Target store in Colorado was used for some high-risk target practice on Friday — unrelated events that might appear wholly unremarkable, save for the fact that they occurred on what is traditionally the most hyped, busy, deadly, and apocalyptic shopping day of the year.
The untamed mayhem began on Friday afternoon in Tallahassee, Florida when local news reported that two people, a black male and a black female, were shot in a Wal-Mart parking lot in an apparent dispute over a parking space. The suspect is still at large.
“Everybody started trying to find a place to hide,” said one customer.
Meanwhile, police ruled that a shopper in San Antonio, Texas who pulled a gun on another individual in a mall parking lot had used justified force. (RELATED VIDEO: Shoppers scuffle, police intervene as madness descends on Georgia Wal-Mart)
“We don’t see this very often,” police spokesman Matthew Porter said, adding that the man who brandished the gun was legitimately in fear for his life. “He was within his rights.”
Witnesses told police the man produced his semi-automatic handgun after being punched. Managers suspended shopping at the nearby Sears department store for only 10 minutes, before letting customers back in.
But a Target store in Aurora, Colo. closed for the whole day after a man wearing a ski mask bizarrely and brazenly stormed into the pharmacy at approximately 6 p.m., fired a round into the ceiling and darted off suddenly.
“For someone to come in here and do this … it didn’t even seem like they were trying to steal anything,” one Target employee told FOX-31. “They just caused as much panic as they could.”
If that was the mission, it apparently was mostly unsuccessful: Several customers said they were not aware there had been a gunshot until the police showed up. In a peculiar show of honesty, one patron even admitted to being so confused about why everyone was leaving that he ran directly into a store shelf.
“It was just a loud noise. I wasn’t thinking, but then we just saw all these people running by, and so we said ‘Let’s leave our cart here and get out,’” one man told The Denver Post. “I ran into shelves. It’s just weird to think about it still. I don’t know what to think.”
Despite the close calls, this year’s Black Friday was relatively peaceful: No fatalities related to the shopping bonanza were reported nationwide. Only four years ago, a rampaging crowd trampled a temporary Wal-Mart employee to death. (RELATED: In Black Friday horror story, crowds stomp worker to death)