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"Black Friday" Shootout - Two Dead


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  • "Black Friday" Shootout - Two Dead

    2 gunmen kill each other in shootout at Toys R Us in Palm Desert

    Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

    Police and emergency personnel work outside a Toys R Us store in Palm Desert on Black Friday after two people were shot to death in the crowded toy store. The confrontation apparently involved rival groups, city officials said.

    Police say the shooting was apparently sparked by a dispute between two couples who had 'previous hostility.' Other shoppers hide or flee in panic.
    By Seema Mehta, Michelle Maltais and Kimi Yoshino
    November 29, 2008

    Reporting from Palm Desert and Los Angeles -- Most shoppers headed to the Toys R Us in Palm Desert on Friday morning clutching their "door buster" ads and their shopping lists. At least two men walked into the busy store armed with their guns.

    Instead of the usual frantic chaos on Black Friday, the year's busiest shopping day, mayhem erupted in the electronics department about 11:30 a.m., leaving two men dead in a gunfight and crowds of shoppers ducking for cover.

    Joan Barrick, 40, of Desert Hot Springs said she was buying a Barbie Jeep for her daughter when two women started brawling. As the women swung at each other, the men they were with also started arguing.

    The younger of the two lifted up his shirt and flashed his handgun, pulling the grip from his baggy pants pocket. The other man yanked out his own handgun and started chasing him down the aisle and firing, witnesses said.

    Barrick hid behind a stack of DVDs and recited the Lord's Prayer. "If I'm going to die, I need to make peace," she said. "A lot of people were crying. I was crying. We were all very, very scared."

    As the two men ran shooting through the aisles, shoppers dumped their purchases. LaToya Jenkins, 20, had already bought a remote-control bike. She dropped it and ran. Others left behind shopping carts full of the bargain-priced toys they had come in search of.

    Several witnesses saw the gunmen clearly. Some cried out warnings: "He has a gun!" and "¡Pistola! ¡Pistola!" Barrick was so close she could see the smoking gun.

    "This is horrible," said a shaken Sara Frahm, 25. "I'm never shopping on Black Friday again."

    Clarisa Valerio, 45, of Thermal said that when the man first brandished his gun, she heard him threaten to kill the other. She didn't believe it was real. "Since we were in a toy store, I thought it was a toy gun," Valerio said in Spanish. "My husband pushed me and said: 'Let's go. Didn't you hear what he said?' "

    As her husband started heading to safety, Valerio turned back when she remembered that her daughter, 18, was still checking on the price of a toy car set. The shooting started almost immediately.

    "I was hysterical," Valerio said. "This man pushed me to the ground. He put his arms around me and his disabled wife and held me."

    Riverside County sheriff's officials declined to release the names of the dead men, whose bodies were found near the front of the store. Police retrieved handguns on the floor near both of them.

    "These guys ran into each other, they squared off against each other, they killed each other," said Sheriff's Capt. Daniel Wilham. "It's a miracle that these were the only two people killed, given it was a crowded toy store."

    Wilham said it appeared there was some "previous hostility" between the two couples.

    Even after the shooting, one woman was still screaming angrily. In raw video footage posted on the website for KESQ-TV Channel 3, the woman is being handcuffed and led to a police car. "I'm going to . . . kill you right now!" she shouted, slamming her fists on the car. "I'm going to kill you! Yeah, you!"

    Toys R Us officials released a statement saying they were "outraged by the act of violence . . . and by the fact that anyone would compromise the safety and security of our customers and employees.

    "Our understanding is that this act seems to have been the result of a personal dispute between the individuals involved. Therefore, it would be inaccurate to associate the events of today with Black Friday," the statement said.

    In the first moments after the shooting subsided, the store became eerily quiet. Some people remained frozen in their tracks. Others tried to find the friends and family they had become separated from. Dozens of shoppers poured out a back emergency exit and fled to the nearest havens: a Jiffy Lube and a World Gym.

    Saul Diaz, an assistant manager at Jiffy Lube, said a stampede of about 45 people ran into the store, a few distraught and crying. "They were running fast, straight into the car bays," he said. "There was a couple of ladies with little kids, about 3 years [old]. They were all pale. The kids were shouting, 'Mom, I'm scared.' "

    One crying woman walked into the gym with an infant cradled in her arms.

    Outside Pizza Hut, where witnesses were being interviewed, 3-year-old Landon Stitt sat on the grass munching on his pizza. He spoke matter-of-factly, almost as if he was describing a video game.

    "I saw it," he said. "They were fighting. They were shooting." He shaped his fingers into a gun, then fired into the air.

    As night fell, the coroner's office had still not removed the bodies from the store. But authorities said they expected Toys R Us to be open for business this morning.

    Mehta, Maltais and Yoshino are Times staff writers.

    [email protected]

    michelle.maltais @latimes.com

    [email protected]

    Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Evelyn Larrubia, Stuart Pfeifer and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

  • #2
    That's almost a pathetic as the Wal-Mart employee that was trampled to death as he opened the front doors to the store. These people are just plain pathetic and don't deserve the air they breath. At least in this case it ended as good as it could, two idiots dead and no one else hurt.
    "Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

    - Frederick Douglass


    • #3
      At least they did not kill any bystanders or LEO. Natural selection at it's finest.
      It's better to be hated for what you are, then to be loved for what you are not.


      • #4
        Originally posted by safetyallday View Post
        At least they did not kill any bystanders or LEO. Natural selection at it's finest.

        This event, along with many other things happening in society lately, makes me think that the gene pool needs a few more lifeguards!

        Some people just should not breed.

        The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

        The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.


        "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."


        • #5
          I'm glad I don't go black friday shopping.


          • #6
            That's referred to as a "self cleaning oven".
            Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun.
            And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son.


            • #7
              Originally posted by KapsFB View Post
              That's referred to as a "self cleaning oven".
              LOL or the trash taking itself to the curb.
              It's better to be hated for what you are, then to be loved for what you are not.


              • #8
                I didn't run into any lines while shopping online. I wasn't even stressed out.

                A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than yesterday. Jonathan Swift 1667-1745

                It's only a conspiracy when your party is not in power.


                • #9
                  And we wonder why the world hates us...This Toys r US and Wal-mart incident makes us look pathetic...


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