Two armed thugs tried to rob a line of people waiting for the new PlayStation 3 game system to go on sale early Friday and shot one man who refused to give up his money, authorities said.
In Sullivan, Ind., a man was in critical condition after emergency surgery for a stab wound after he and a friend tried to rob two men of consoles they waited 36 hours in line to buy, police said.
Nationwide, short supplies of the PS3 and strong demand led to long lines of buyers, some waiting for days outside stores. Once the doors opened Friday, they pushed and shoved their way to the shelves in several cities to get at the limited supply. Two people were arrested in Fresno, Calif., after a crowd trampled people in a parking lot.
It was about 3 a.m. when the two gunmen in Putnam, a town of about 9,000 residents in northeast Connecticut, confronted 15 to 20 people standing outside a Wal-Mart store and demanded money, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.
“One of the patrons resisted. That patron was shot,” Vance said.
Vance said the two gunmen fled after shooting Michael Penkala, 21, of Webster, Mass., in the chest and shoulder. Penkala was in stable condition at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, Vance said.
Police were searching for the suspects, both believed to be in their teens, Vance said. He said one was wearing a ski mask and brandishing a handgun, and the other had what appeared to be a shotgun.
About 30 miles away, another shopper was beaten and robbed of his new PlayStation 3 just minutes after he bought it at a store in Manchester, police said.
The shopper told police five men surrounded and beat him as he left the Shoppes at Buckland Hills.
Police Sgt. Chris Davis said the attackers pushed one of their cohorts out of the car as they drove away. That man, a 17-year-old from Windsor, was charged with robbery, larceny, assault and breach of peace.
Andrew Templeton, 20, and David Wiggins, 28, of Sullivan, Ind., were assaulted by two teens after waiting for 36 hours at a Super Wal-Mart, police said.
They were unloading their PlayStation 3s from their car when two teens approached them carrying a chain and a tire iron and demanding their consoles, said Sullivan Police Chief David Story.
A fight broke out. Wiggins’ nose was broken, and he stabbed one of the attackers, Dylan Moss, 19, police said. Moss was in critical condition after surgery, officials said.
Sullivan County Prosecutor Bob Springer said he plans to charge Moss and accomplice Dustin Fagg, 19, with felony robbery.
Elsewhere, two men wearing black ski masks and sunglasses made off with five consoles after holding two employees at gunpoint at an Englewood, Ohio, video-game store Thursday night, police said.
A Pennsylvania teenager was also robbed of his new PlayStation by a man who tapped on his car window with a handgun in Allentown, police said.
In Lexington, Ky., someone fired BB pellets from a passing vehicle at people waiting outside a Best Buy store, according to WKYT, whose own reporter said she was among four people grazed while she interviewed buyers in line.
Police fired a talcum powder ball at the ground outside a Target store in Henrico, Va., to get the attention of an unruly crowd of about 350 people who were waiting to buy one of the shop’s eight consoles, police said.
In McLean, Va., police fired pepper pellets Friday morning to subdue a rowdy crowd of about 200 people outside a Circuit City store at Tysons Corner Center mall. One person complained of shortness of breath after the pellets were fired and was taken to the hospital, authorities said.
A Best Buy store in Boston, aware it had only 140 of the consoles, got smart about the big sale — its employees gave out tickets to the first 140 people in line so everyone could go home until the store opened.