Adjust Text Size

Black Friday Tragedy: Wal-Mart Stampede

Written by Nickel - 24 Comments

I originally posted this on Twitter, but decided that it’s worthy of a mention here, as well. According to a story in the NY Times, a temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by crazed bargain hunters…

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared… By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Unbelievable. Anything for a $2 DVD or cheap flat panel TV, right? Oh, and guess what? Some members of the mob reportedly became enraged when they were told that the store was closing due to the death. They wanted to keep shopping. What a bunch of callous morons.

There was also a cellphone video of the aftermath posted on YouTube which captured people laughing about what had just transpired and making snide comments about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The video has since been removed.

Source: NY Times


Published on November 29th, 2008 - 24 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Related articles...

» Psychology of Black Friday: Motivation behind the pursuit of deals
» Chase Freedom Black Friday Bonus Rewards
» Black Friday Retail Sales: Up 3% Compared to 2007
» The Best Times to Score Holiday Shopping Deals
» Cyber Monday – Who Knew?
» How to Sue Wal-Mart
» Why We Avoid Black Friday Like the Black Death
» Wal-Mart to Stop Offering Layaway

Was this article useful? Please sign up to receive our content via e-mail:

You will receive only the daily updates, and can unsubscribe at anytime.

24 Responses to “Black Friday Tragedy: Wal-Mart Stampede”

  1. 1
    kitty Says:

    Totally unbelievable. Just no words. How many people go to work in a store thinking they are risking their life?

    One would think they were dying of hunger and the store was hoarding food…

  2. 2
    Daniel Says:

    Civilization is breaking down before our very eyes.

    This is the result of decades of being taught that there is no discernable right & wrong, that all things are permissible.

    It is so very sad. Both from the perspective of society’s downfall, and from the perspective of the loss of this worker.

  3. 3
    NCN Says:

    This is terribly, terribly sad…
    How could anyone who touched that man (or ignored his plight) go to sleep tonight? Have we really gotten to the place where we can’t stand in line, behave, laugh a little, and then do some shopping? Do we really need police barricades… to keep us from getting in trouble at WAL-MART!!!!???!!! Ridiculous.

  4. 4
    Nick B Says:

    Just a bunch of insane, asinine idiots. One of the reasons I avoid shopping on black friday. This friday was really black. And to have people laughing at this dead man…..PATHETIC. Just for cheaply made products…….so materialisitc.

    UGH!!

    Peace to this man’s family.

  5. 5
    Robert Says:

    Those are New Yorkers for you.

  6. 6
    Ethan Says:

    It was a terrible event, but the mechanics of a disaster like this are easy to understand.

    - It doesn’t *feel* dangerous or bad to be agitating along with a crowd at the time – it feels exhilarating and yet free of personal consequence. It is very difficult to connect what feels like “simple shoving” with death, so no one is thinking that they are contributing to something so deadly.

    - A few individuals do a few things of very poor judgment or outright malice; ignoring someone in obvious danger or intentionally damaging property. Those individuals are always among us, and the crowd just brings out the worst in them and covers their actions in anonymity.

    - Once the crowd has done its damage, including a death in this case, its members avoid acknowledging the pain they have caused, or even mock it, because to acknowledge it is psychologically uncomfortable; it requires acknowledging their own culpability in the event.

    - The crowd’s members secretly console themselves that it is kind of “lame” to get trampled by a crowd – that the victim could have avoided injury but made some stupid mistake – in an attempt to offload their guilt onto the victim. The power of a crowd is probably always a surprise to those caught under it, but it is very real, very terrifying, and very inescapable.

    In short, except for a few individuals it is usually true that the members of the crowd are so shocked by the results of their actions that they instinctively want to feel victimized *themselves*. Combined with a pressing psychological (and legal) “need” to deny responsibility, they all do so, to the point of blaming the victim instead of themselves.

    This is merely a physical example of a far more sinister effect of the crowed mentality: we do things in the large, anonymous crowd we call “government” that we would find unpardonable if done by an individual. And we rationalize away the pain that we cause because it is inconceivable to us to question the authority of the crowd, along with the legitimacy of all its past actions – until perhaps at the last minute, when we find ourselves feeling its crushing force for the first time.

  7. 7
    Kev Says:

    I worked for K-Mart during my high school/college years – it was enough to turn me off on holidays all together and that was over ten years ago… I was just a teenager, yet I knew enough to recognize how horrible it was. It pretty much made me ashamed of humanity as a whole.

    Wal-Mart should be held responsible for this tragedy. They (among others) basically create a riot situation w/ the way they handle Black Friday. Best Buy has a decent system that limits the total anarchy (they hand out tickets at the door) – I think more retailers should follow their lead.

  8. 8
    Ethan Says:

    Ken is right. The answer doesn’t lie in changing the nature of crowds, so much as in recognizing the danger they represent and responding accordingly. First, the venue certainly should plan ahead better – Walmart on Black Friday just as much as an Italian Soccer stadium.

    Then individuals like us who are in or near the crowd should all take drastic action when we first recognize the danger. Call the police, fake a heart attack, park your car in front of the doors to the store… whatever it takes to prevent loss of life. Yelling at them won’t cut it. At the very least, get yourself and anyone you know or can convince out of there – remind them of death-by-crowd horror stories if you have to.

    Third, everyone confronting the crowd should feel able to walk away if they don’t care to accept the danger. Anyone in a normal job at Walmart should know that they need not accept any level of physical danger on their job – and it is Walmart’s job to make sure they know that, or should have known that. It doesn’t make sense to be so careful about having the right equipment to lift a 50-pound box but then having to face a riotous mob breaking down the doors to your store. Employees should feel just as free to decline facing the mob as they do declining to do improper heavy lifting. Again that’s on Walmart. Though I don’t think that most stores would fare any better than Walmart in this situation. Kudos to Best Buy for taking the initiative.

  9. 9
    alicia Says:

    This is horrible and Wal-mart should be ashamed of themselves. I along with my family also got caught in a stampede at Wal-mart, and the police were there. I have never experienced anything like that before. I always shop on Black friday and yes people do get crazy but most of all it is usually organized.

    Wal-mart was not prepared for such a crowd, I was in the front of the line and I still did not get in the store due to the fact I was pushed on top of a metal bench that was draggedinto the store by a bunch of animals.
    Thank God all I walked away with just a couple of scratches and my family member with a busted knee.
    I feel sorry for the woman that got stomped on and lost her baby or the woman that got knocked down with her child in her arms. Wal-mart should take some type of responsibility for this mess.

  10. 10
    BV Says:

    I don’t think Wal-mart is to blame and they shouldn’t be held totally responsible. It’s the people who broke down the doors and stampeded in that are to blame. I hope they review any surveillance video footage and track down and prosecute anyone involved in the trampling.

    But I don’t think we should blame Wal-mart. They are a business trying to draw in customers on the busiest shopping day of the year. Was it there fault for thinking that people wouldn’t behave like wild animals? Are you saying that every retail store must have a police presence on future Black Fridays or else risk being sued? Do we really need every lawyer on the planet looking to sue a business because they didn’t put up barricades and post armed guards? Do you want to live in a society where we need twenty new laws and regulations on how a store should operate? Personally, I would rather that we enforce the laws we already have of not killing one another and protecting the basic right of LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    We are all appalled by the materialism and lack of human decency displayed in this story. But lets not shift the guilt with the “sue the large corporation with the deep pockets” mentality. Prosecute the people responsible, not the business.

  11. 11
    nickel Says:

    BV: I agree that Wal-Mart isn’t solely responsible, though I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have more security on hand given the circumstances. The problem with prosecuting is that, even if they can identify the people who initially burst through the door, some of them may have been simply trying to save their own lives as 2k other customers shoved them against and through the doors from behind. I suspect that it will be very difficult to pin blame on individuals in this case.

  12. 12
    Leigh Says:

    i cant believe people are so frickin ridiculus. Over some stupid cheap stuff. I do blame wal-mart for what had happened. they should have had security outside and inside. this poor man could have been saved. Police should have lined up on the streets where the crowd was. wal-mart should have known that it was going to get out of hand. i agree that they didnt know that THIS particular thing was going to happen, but they shold have been prepared for anything…meaning to have security. yes, its ridiculus, but u need to be prepared.

    prayers go out to this mans family…
    he was making money for his family, and i can believe how people could just STEP on someone…
    this world is going to hell….

  13. 13
    Laura Says:

    Blame – blame the idiots who stampeded the store. That is who is at fault. However, when I chaired a small craft fair at a small school in my town I needed to have a police officer present to keep order. This is at a craft fair in a town where people generally behave and we had to have police present. I have no idea why police were not required to be present at this store opening. Anyone who has ever been part of the Black Friday craziness knows to expect crowds.

    I pray that this man’s family will find peace soon. What a horrible beginning to the holiday season.

  14. 14
    Craig Says:

    It’s horrible that black Friday has become the American version of the running of the bulls. It’s terrible that people die just so someone can get a discounted TV.

  15. 15
    LAL Says:

    It was just a matter of time! Let’s be honest this has been building and Walmart should be held responsible because other stores try to manage their black friday lines like Best Buy.

  16. 16
    PennySeeds.com Says:

    I find it sad that people are blaming a store for these shopper’s ridiculous actions. That’s the reason the world is like this is because we keep making excuses for stupid people.

    It’s not their fault! Blame Satan, “insert evil corporation”, or “insert media type”. They are responsible for their OWN actions, and should be ashamed of themselves for the way they behaved over a damn DVD.

  17. 17
    kara f Says:

    Police are viewing surveillance tapes of the Walmart ‘stampede’ hoping to narrow in on a handful of individuals responsible. Over 2000 were reportedly waiting outside the Walmart doors before the store opened at 5 30 am. I think that attempting to single out people as instigators of the stampede is pointless. People act completely different when influenced by the ‘mob mentality’. Behaviour that seems selfish, savage, or different from how the individual usually acts is usually influenced by many different factors. Disgruntled shoppers who refused to leave the store once the man was killed probably wouldn’t have the same response to the situation had they not been apart of the ‘mob’. Therefore, I think that it is wrong to focus on individuals as this group behavioral issue.

  18. 18
    BV Says:

    Is it “wrong” to focus on the individuals or just not a good use of time and resources? Being part of a crowd does not mitigate someone’s personal responsibility. People behave differently when they are under the influence of alcohol but we don’t use that as an excuse when they break the law.

  19. 19
    Jim Says:

    “Civilization is breaking down before our very eyes.

    This is the result of decades of being taught that there is no discernable right & wrong, that all things are permissible.”

    You hit the nail on the head Daniel. There is no black or white, only gray. We have a “living” constitution. It’s Wal Mart’s fault, it’s society’s fault. Greed rules the day, on a personal level (for cheap Chinese crap), and a governmental level (let’s borrow and print money like crazy to stay in office, screw future generations). The most sickening thing is that it’s all in the name of “Christmas shopping”! Happy Birthday Jesus!

  20. 20
    Nick Says:

    If the store can’t keep the crowd under control, they shouldn’t be permitted to have these sales, end of story. That, and they need to come up with a better way to do things, rather than just a mad dash to the goods.

  21. 21
    Daryl Says:

    How can Wal-mart be held responsible. We are turning into a society that feels that we are not responsible for our own actions (i.e. holding a bar responsible for the person who chooses to drink too much). Someone else with deeper pockets must be at fault. They had the money to prevent such a tragic accident. Inevitably, those suits paid by the companies are then passed on to us through higher prices and/or safeguards the company must pay for to protect against actions that really are not in their control. This is a result of individual selfishness and lack of care or concern for others.

    It is sad, very sad. The people that trampled this man to death should be held accountable. Passing the responsibility to Wal-mart continues to propagate the idea that one should not be held responsible for his/her own carelessness and that someone else with deeper pockets could have prevented it.

  22. 22
    bewildered and confused Says:

    What has happened to humanity? Have we lost our moral compasses completely? Whatever happened to loving our neighbor, and compassion for all?

    God help us! We have gotten so badly off track ethically speaking, that we will need a map to find out way back to decent kindness.

    I don’t consider myself a religous person, but this event has inspired me to spend more time on my knees so I can at least be sure that me and my family will never contribute to anything so horrible.

    We can’t control the actions of those that were present, but we can control our own actions and be sure that we are treating friends, relatives, and strangers with love and respect.

    Let’s change the world and make it a better place to live. The only way we can do that is by changing ourselves.

    My deepest condolences to the family of the man simply trying to do the right thing. I am so sorry for your loss. Let’s not let his death mean nothing. Let’s change the world!

  23. 23
    pacluv Says:

    Walmart should be held accountable, because they advertise 32″ tv’s on sale for $300. But the people don’t read the fine print where it says there are only 12 tv’s for each store. They create the frenzy for this product, because they only want to get you in the store to buy other things. Once they get you in the store they know you will spend money on other items (impulse) that you never planned to buy. The guy that was killed was sent over to unlock the door to the let the crowds in. They only picked him to do this is because he was a big guy. But he was the only person sent to open the door. They could have a least sent more people with him to help open the store. And the store had no security outside of the store. There was no line of any sort, the people were just standing in a crowd pushing and shoving in front of the store. No police no security guards nothing. Yeah I think walmart is responsible, and the family should sue in this case, he was set up to fail. He probably felt if he didn’t do what he was told to he would lose his job. And we all need our jobs in this tough economy!!!!

  24. 24
    Larry B Says:

    I saw the video of the two people laughing as Jdimytai Damour was being resuscitated on Youtube two years ago and it disturbed me in a profound way. It was posted by people who were part of the black Friday trampling. They laughed and snickered while they filmed it on their cell phone as the man died. They may have been the people who pushed Jdimytai Damour on the ground. They finally took it down as it was incriminating but also got so many negative comments. Sociopaths and Psychopaths don’t feel compassion for others much like insects. It was more important that they got their plastic black Friday trophies than feel anything about their actions . They certainly thought nothing of posting it on Youtube as they made fun of Jdimytai Damour. In some diseased way probably thought it was the way that everyone reacts when they see someone dying. This is a real person who had thoughts, feelings , a wife and children who died a senseless death. I will always remember this how cruel and selfish humans can be.

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer...
Because rates and offers from advertisers shown on this website change frequently, please visit referenced sites for current information. This website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise.

FiveCentNickel User Survey