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Friday, February 24, 2012

Police in riot gear break up shoe melee at Florida Mall

The launch of an expensive new basketball shoe — timed to Orlando's hosting of the NBA All-Star Game— triggered a melee Thursday night at Florida Mall that was quelled by deputies in riot gear.

The wild scene erupted about 9:45 p.m. as hundreds of people packed the mall's parking lot, hoping to buy the new shoe at midnight. As the crowd grew, a large contingent of Orange County deputy sheriffs arrived, braced for problems.

Similar shoe releases have caused violence at shoe stores across the country, but no one was hurt or arrested at Florida Mall, the Sheriff's Office said.


Witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel that the crowd was asked to wait across the street when the mall closed at 9 p.m., but one person made a mad dash toward the Foot Locker where the shoes were to go on sale, and hundreds followed.

"I saw hundreds of people running toward me. I thought I was going to get trampled," said Amanda Charles, 20, who was among a group of a half-dozen friends who drove from Jacksonville to try to buy the glow-in-the-dark Nikes. more