SEATTLE — The release of Nike’s new Air Jordan basketball shoes caused a frenzy at stores across the nation early Friday, with police using pepper spray on a group of rowdy customers near Seattle and officers arresting some shoppers after a crowd broke down a door in suburban Atlanta.
A group of about 20 people were sprayed after getting into fights at the Westfield Southcenter mall in suburban Seattle, Tukwila Officer Mike Murphy said.
The crowd started gathering around midnight at four stores in the mall and had grown to more than 1,000 by 4 a.m., when the stores opened, Murphy said.
“Around 3 (a.m.) there started to be some fighting and pushing among the customers,” he said. “Around 4, it started to get pretty unruly and officers sprayed pepper spray on a few people who were fighting, and that seemed to do the trick to break them up.”
No injuries were reported, although some people suffered cuts or scrapes from fights, Murphy said. The crowd broke off a door.
One man was arrested for assault after authorities say he pushed an officer.
“He did not get his shoes; he went to jail,” Murphy said.
About 25 officers from Tukwila, Renton, Kent, Seattle and King County responded. They smelled marijuana and found alcohol containers at the scene, he said.
Murphy said the crowd was on the verge of a riot and would have gotten even more out of hand if the police hadn’t intervened.
“It was not a nice orderly group of shoppers,” he said. “There were a lot of hostile and disorderly people.”
The stores sold out of the Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords, and all but about 50 people got their Nikes.
Hundreds of customers also lined up outside shoe stores in downtown Seattle and at a mall in Federal Way.