Air Jordan release causes chaos in stores

Many shoppers were naughty upon the release of a 'retro' Air Jordan shoe, with police responding to rioting as consumers waited for stores to open across the US. Fights, gun shots and a stabbing were reported.

Kristopher Rush, 14, shows off the Nike Air Jordan shoes he got for Christmas. He waited in line with his father and brother for over three hours.
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Fights, vandalism and arrests marked the release of Nike's new Air Jordan basketball shoes as a shopping rush on stores across the United States led to unrest that nearly turned into rioting.

The outbursts of chaos stretched from Washington state to Georgia as shoppers - who often waited for hours in lines - converged on in pursuit of the shoes, a retro model of one of the most popular Air Jordans ever made.

The mayhem was reminiscent of the violence that broke out 20 years ago as the shoes became popular targets for thieves.

In some areas, lines began forming several hours before businesses opened for the US$180 (Dh660) shoes that were selling in a limited release. As the crowds kept growing, they became more unruly and ended in vandalism, violence and arrests.

In Jersey City, New Jersey, a man was stabbed when a brawl broke out between people waiting in line at a mall to buy the new shoes, authorities said. The 20-year-old man was expected to recover from his injuries.

In suburban Seattle, Washington, police used pepper spray on about 20 customers who started fighting at a mall. The crowd started gathering at four stores in the mall around midnight and had grown to more than 1,000 people by 4am, when the stores opened.

A police spokesman said the melee started with fighting and pushing among people in line and escalated over the next hour. Some people reportedly suffered cuts or scrapes from fights.

Shoppers also broke two doors, and 18-year-old man was arrested for assault after authorities say he punched an officer.

"He did not get his shoes; he went to jail," the spokesman said.

In Lithonia, Georgia, at least four people were apparently arrested after customers broke down a door at a store selling the shoes.

In Richmond, California, police say crowds waiting to buy the shoes at the Hilltop Mall were turned away after a gunshot was heard around 7am. Police said a 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody.

The gun apparently went off inadvertently, the Contra Costa Times reported.

The Air Jordan has since been a consistent hit, spawning a sub-culture of collectors willing to wait hours to buy the latest pair. Some save the shoes for special occasions or never take them out of the box. A new edition was launched each year since 1984, but the uproar over the shoe had died down in recent years.

Nike issued a statement in response to the violence that said: "Consumer safety and security is of paramount importance. We encourage anyone wishing to purchase our product to do so in a respectful and safe manner."