Air Jordan shoes cause of mall squabbles in N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police and Medic were called to three Charlotte-area malls before daybreak Friday, after shoppers seeking Air Jordan shoes became unruly.

No injuries were reported, but at least one fight broke out, and a door was damaged at a mall. Similar problems were reported this morning at a number of malls across the country, and there were reports late Friday morning of long lines at other shoe stores across the Charlotte region.

The subject of the trouble: a re-release of the Air Jordan XI Concord shoes, made by Nike and selling at a suggested price of $180. The shoes were released initially in 1996, and their return had people standing in lines for up to 24 hours at some malls and sporting good stores around the country.

According to a news release, the shoes were scheduled to go on sale at 5 a.m. today.

And that's when trouble started at Carolina Place, SouthPark and Northlake malls in the Charlotte area. Within two hours, police and mall management had closed all three malls.

Several shoppers at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville reported they were bumped and jostled by fellow shoppers when the doors opened at 5 a.m. One young woman said the crowd quickly became unruly, with shoppers headed to three stores that were selling the shoes.

"People were crazy," she said.

One girl said she lost her shoes in the midst of all the pushing and shoving.

Several shoppers told the Observer there were between 150 and 200 people, some with children, standing in line when the doors opened. WBTV coverage showed two women pushing one another before being separated by police.

By 6 a.m., shoppers said police and mall management told them to leave. At least a dozen Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Pineville police cars were parked at the mall.

There also were reports of heavy police presence at SouthPark and Northlake malls, and WSOC-TV reported that Northlake Mall asked shoppers to leave.

SouthPark Mall was cleared by police about 6 a.m. At Northlake Mall, a door was ripped from the hinge and the glass broken. Police and mall management there cleared the mall by 7 a.m.

Medic reported nobody needed transportation to any hospitals.

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