Tensions run high when Wal Mart loses power

HOUSTON It started early Friday morning. Lots of people stood in line at the store on Almeda-Genoa near the Gulf Freeway for hours and some went home upset and empty-handed.

Well before sunrise and, in some cases, before Thanksgiving Day sunset, shoppers lined up outside the Wal Mart to score early-bird shopping deals.

"We got these around 11 o'clock," said shipper Delores Turner. "We got these tickets."

The tickets were supposed to guarantee the people at the front of the line the limited stock, big-ticket item they came for. But that didn't happen for everyone.

"I've been here at Wal Mart since 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon for the 32-inch LCD TV that was on sale for $198," said shopper James Fulton. "I was tenth in line."

"I was number 6," said shopper Denise Keller.

Denice Keller's sister was first in line for a different item, but hours later, they were still waiting, empty-handed.

"We got our items, ready to check out, three people in front of us, and the lights went out," said Keller.

"When I got here, the lights were off," said shopper Maria Hastings. "They said the lights were off."

At 5:03am, just three minutes into the shopping melee, the Wal Mart went dark. Customers were told a transformer blew. Everyone inside had to evacuate without the items they waited all night for.

Some got ticket vouchers. Others did not.

"It's aggravating because, literally in there, had the merchandise in my cart," said shopper William Carnival. "Now they're telling me they're not gonna honor that because I surrendered my ticket in order to get my merchandise."

"I've been here drinking coffee in the cold, trying to stay awake to get my things, because I'm not leaving without them," said Keller.

For hours, people waited in their cars, some outside in the cold, hoping the lights would come back on and that their tickets and vouchers would be honored. Their wishes came true at 10am Friday morning.

Carnival, who camped out for 33 grueling hours, is finally walking away with his 32-inch LCD.

"I'm a happy camper," he said. "Done deal."

Some of the people we spoke with were able to get their merchandise. Others say their tickets and vouchers weren't accepted when they came backto the store. We called Wal Mart's corporate office to find out what customers should do. We've yet to hear back. We also tried to contact the management of the Almeda-Genora Wal Mart store.

We found a couple of other black Friday problems that required police intervention. In Wisconsin, a woman tried to cut to the front of the line outside a Toys R Us and angered a lot of people. The woman responded by saying she would go get a gun and start shooting. She didn't have a gun, but ended up going to jail for disorderly conduct.

In California, police arrested a man who carried a loaded pistol, two knives, and a pepper spray grenade into a Wal Mart store. The man also had a bottle of pills with no label or prescription.

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