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Black Friday pepper spray suspect surrenders in LA

By John Rogers
Associated Press / November 26, 2011
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LOS ANGELES—A woman suspected of showering Black Friday shoppers with pepper spray surrendered to authorities but was released pending further investigation after she refused to discuss the incident, police said Saturday.

The woman, whose name was not released, is suspected of firing pepper spray into a crowd in order to clear a path to a crate of Xbox video game players that were being unwrapped late Thanksgiving night at a Walmart in the upscale Porter Ranch section of the San Fernando Valley.

The suspect got away in the confusion, and it was not known if she bought one of the Xboxes. Ten people suffered minor injuries from the spray and 10 others sustained cuts and bruises in the ensuing chaos.

"Last night at 8:30 the suspect involved in the pepper spray incident at the Porter Ranch Walmart turned herself in," police Sgt. Jose Valle said Saturday. She immediately invoked her right against self-incrimination, however, and refused to discuss the incident further.

Police released her pending further investigation.

Valle said investigators still have nearly a dozen witnesses to interview, including several spraying victims. He added it would likely be at least two days before an arrest in the case could be made.

If the woman who surrendered is indeed the person who sprayed the crowd she could face battery charges.

The attack took place about 10:30 p.m., shortly after the Walmart opened its doors for the traditional Black Friday sales that kick off the Christmas shopping season. A crowd of people had gathered to wait for store employees to unwrap the crate of discounted Xboxes.

The incident was one of several across the nation that marred this year's Black Friday.

In the most serious case, a robber shot a shopper who refused to give up his purchases outside a Walmart in the San Francisco suburb of San Leandro. The victim was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

San Leandro police said the victim and his family were walking to their car around 1:45 a.m. Friday when they were confronted by a group of men who demanded their shopping items. When the family refused, a fight broke out, and one of the robbers pulled a gun and shot the man, said Sgt. Mike Sobek.

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Associated Press Writer Terry Tang contributed to this story.

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