At 3:30 a.m., store employees called the Nassau police to report that the crowd was growing quickly, the police said. Officers came by to try to organize the line, but were called away to a Circuit City, a Best Buy and a B.J.’s Wholesale Club nearby, to deal with crowds there.
On Friday, Wal-Mart released a statement saying that the man who was killed had been working for Wal-Mart through a temp agency. The company called the death “a tragic situation,” and said it was working with police.
“The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.
Lieutenant Fleming said that the store “could have done more” to prevent the melee.
“I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it’s not,” he said. “This certainly was foreseeable
Mark my words: the family of the deceased will sue Walmart, and will win.
Quote:Mark my words: the family of the deceased will sue Walmart, and will win.
They probably will sue, but they will not win.
Roughly 2,000 people gathered outside the Wal-Mart's doors in the predawn darkness.
Chanting "push the doors in," the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.
Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers.
It didn't work.
The mob barreled in and overwhelmed workers.
"They were jumping over the barricades and breaking down the door," said Pat Alexander, 53, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. "Everyone was screaming. You just had to keep walking on your toes to keep from falling over."
After the throng toppled Damour, his fellow employees had to fight through the crowd to help him, police said.
Witness Kimberly Cribbs said shoppers acted like "savages."
"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, 'I've been on line since Friday morning!'" Cribbs said. "They kept shopping."
When paramedics arrived, Damour's condition was grave.
"They were pumping his chest, trying to bring him back, and there was nothing," said Dennis Smokes, 36, a Wal-Mart worker.
Damour was taken to Franklin Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m.
Hank Mullany, president of Wal-Mart's northeast division, said the company took extraordinary safety precautions.
"We expected a large crowd this morning and added additional internal security, additional third-party security, additional store associates and we worked closely with the Nassau County police," he said in a statement.
"We also erected barricades. Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred."
Walmart would settle for the right amount.
"I don't know what it's worth to Wal-Mart or to any of these stores that run these sales events," Fleming said, "but it has become common knowledge that large crowds do gather on the Friday after Thanksgiving in response to these sales and in an effort to do their holiday shopping at the cheapest prices.
"I think it is incumbent upon the commercial establishments to recognize that this has the potential to occur at any store. Today, it happened to be Wal-Mart. It could have been any other store where hundreds and hundreds of people gather."
Asked whether the security had been adequate, Fleming said, "In light of the outcome, in hindsight, the answer is obviously no. ... This crowd was out of control
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union’s Local 1500 Chapter, which represents about 23,000 grocery workers in the New York City region, called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the New York State Labor Department and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the incident. Wal-Mart workers are not unionized.
“When you bring in temporary workers, there’s a responsibility whether they’re temporary or not to train and protect those people, and that obviously did not happen here,” Local 1500 spokesman Pat Purcell said in a telephone interview.
OSHA sent an inspector to the store this morning to investigate the incident, said Ted Fitzgerald, a Boston-based spokesman for the agency. The New York Labor Department and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment