The 50-inch plasma TV cost $798.
The 10 megapixel camera cost $69.
And the Black Friday shoppers determined to get those door-buster bargains cost a Wal-Mart employee his life.
The ugly scene that shocked America during the Thanksgiving holiday played out just before 5AM, with no police in sight. An unruly crowd of 2,000 people broke down the doors of the store in Valley Stream, New York, and in the process trampled 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour to death.
Four other people in the store were injured and treated at a hospital.
Wall-Mart said it had added extra security staff and installed barricades, among other measures. "Despite all of our precautions," said a spokesperson, "this unfortunate event occurred."
The police detective in charge of the investigation had a different view. "I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not," he said. "Certainly it was a foreseeable act."
At least part of the incident was caught on surveillance cameras, but news reports pointed out that even with the video and eyewitness accounts, “officials acknowledged that it would be difficult to identify those responsible.” There were plenty of suspects, however, beyond the store and the shoppers, including the economy.
“I think it ties into sort of fear and panic of not having enough,” said a consumer psychologist, noting that a “herd mentality” can make individuals feel anonymous to the point of trampling someone. “Fear combined with the group mentality?” the psychologist pondered. “It doesn’t surprise me at all.”
Others blamed the media for having cheered on shoppers in numerous stories leading up to the Black Friday incident, which one reporter described as “the ungovernable mix of greed and thriftiness.”
Tell us what you think: Where does the responsibility lie in this case? With the crowd? The store? The police? The economy? The media? Why would people in a group do something they would never do as individuals?