Black Friday Madness Kicks Off With Pepper Spraying, Shooting

An angry (and strategic) shopper in Los Angeles pepper sprayed about 20 people trying to get X-Boxes 360 on Thursday night, sending at least one person to the hospital. In North Carolina, a shootout broke out at 2 a.m. outside a mall where shoppers had gathered. Yes—it's the most wonderful time of the year. Happy Black Friday, everyone!

It's pepper spray's world! We're just living in it, in constant agony. But unlike the bizarrely casual UC Davis cop whose pepper-spray brutality became an international story last week, this woman—who was shopping at the Northridge Wal-Mart with her two kids—was not just some unhinged sociopath. No, this lady had a plan:

The woman, who is still being sought, used the spray in more than one area of the Wal-Mart "to gain preferred access to a variety of locations in the store," said Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson.

About 20 people were on the receiving end in all; parts of the Wal-Mart had to be cleared, but the life-giving cycle of consumption was never fully interrupted. "I don't care. I'm still getting my TV. I've never seen Wal-Mart so crazy, but I guess it could have been worse," Nakeasha Contreras told the Los Angeles Times.

And indeed it could have been. Back east, "gunfire erupted at a North Carolina mall as holiday shoppers gathered." (As holiday shoppers gathered... at 2 a.m., natch.) No one was hurt, and neither of the shooters has been identified (one apparently escaped into the mall). It's unclear how the shooting is Black Friday-related, except in the general sense that the world has gone completely, utterly mad, and there is no way to stop it.

[LAT, KNBC, AP; image of a Chicago K-Mart via AP]