Videos posted online showed a mob of teenagers attacking customers and employees of a Kroger grocery store in Memphis. During the riot, two workers were knocked out by Halloween pumpkins as they tried to help other victims.
The mob included between 100 and 125 teens, ranging in age from about 14 to 19. Witnesses say those involved may have been playing a “knockout game,” a challenge aimed at injuring innocent people.
Only 11 of the teens have been arrested so far. One suspect, an underage male, was caught on camera kicking a young Kroger employee in the head, and he has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated riot, and other counts.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong issued a statement that called the incident “extremely troubling” based on the mob’s size.
Armstrong spoke of the safe recreational alternatives offered to the city’s youth and sent a warning to those that didn’t take advantage of them: “We will work tireless to identify, locate and hold you accountable.”
One of the first victims, who was in the store’s parking lot at Highland St. and Poplar Ave. around 9:15 p.m., was a 25-year-old shopper on his way to his car.
A female witness filmed the scene with her mobile phone until she was forced to find shelter in the store to avoid the rioting.
The film also shows two teens kicking a young Kroger worker and throwing pumpkins at his head as he lay on the ground. They were then chased away by a security guard.
Two more employees rushed out to help the 25-year-old shopper, but they were also met with the mob of teenagers.
One witness, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that the “game” of the teens had “no real reason behind it.” Describing an attack on a friend, the witness explained that, “They followed hitting him with a pumpkin. He was already unconscious, so all you could see was blood and pumpkins.”
Victims, including the employees, were treated at a local hospital. The employees were released on Saturday night and were home recuperating on Sunday, according to local reports.
Similar incidents have featured mobs that “point out” random pedestrians and score points by “knocking them out.” These so-called games may have been responsible for several other recent assaults throughout the U.S.
Sadly, this isn’t the only incident in the United States that has led to violent mobs and injured people. Black Friday sales on the day after Thanksgiving are notorious for the injuries — and even deaths — that occur among bargain hunters and unlucky retail workers.
Black Friday has become so violent in the United States that it has even inspired a website, BlackFridayDeathCount.com, with links to new stories covering the day’s injuries and fatalities.
As of 2013, Black Friday injuries have reached 90. Even more frightening, however, is that there have been seven total Black Friday deaths, the most notable of which was a 61-year-old man who was trampled by fellow Target shoppers back in 2011.
Those who aren’t brave enough to head out often seek their holiday deals on the internet, contributing a significant amount to the estimated $262 billion spent annually online as of 2013.
As for the Memphis mob, police say they are still looking for suspects. Anyone with information can call Memphis Police’s Tillman Station at (901) 636-3214 or Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.
Video of the incident has gone viral, with almost 140,000 views on video sharing site LiveLeak on Wednesday. Kroger representatives said they plan to increase security at that particular store.