It was a different Shop With Cops experience for Ardmore police early Friday morning when they were called to Mountain View Mall.
Two weeks ago Ardmore Fraternal Order of Police conducted their annual Shop With Cops project, aimed at providing a special Christmas shopping spree for child victims of crime and underprivileged children. Friday morning the officers discovered they were dealing with an angry group of adult shoppers all intent on scoring at least one pair of the 12 limited edition Air Jordan Retro II's being offered at the Hibbet Sports.
Sgt. Brice Woolly, APD Patrol Division, said officers responded about 6:45 a.m. to a report of a disturbance at the mall. When they arrived they found a crowd of 60 to 80 disgruntled shoppers.
"There were people from Dallas, Oklahoma City and here who had apparently camped out waiting for these shoes," Woolly said.
When the mall doors were opened the shoppers flooded inside and that's when tempers flared. Woolly said officers discovered the crowd arguing and upset over who was going to be allowed into the store first.
"It was crazy. It was a big deal and people were willing to go to jail over these shoes," Woolly said, confirming two people were arrested for public nuisance and officers escorted others from the premises.
A quick APD pow-wow determined there was only one Shop With Cops solution.
"We put pieces of paper in a hat. Twelve of the pieces of paper had numbers one through 12. Those who got one of the papers with a number on it were allowed to go into the store one at a time and purchase a pair of the shoes, but they weren't guaranteed they'd get any certain size," Woolly said.
Although many of the shoppers weren't happy with the solution, they all took turns drawing slips of paper.
"The guy that had number 10 sold his number for $325 before he even got inside the store," Woolly said. "People in the crowd that didn't get a number were offering those who did get in to buy shoes $500 to $600 if they would sell them when they came out."
Devon Miles, a salesman at the store, said he wasn't surprised by the number of shoppers the special edition offer drew.
"We had about the same number last year," he said. But he said last year's shoppers were a more congenial group. "We didn't have any problems last year," he said.
Miles said the in-store price of the shoes "is about $200, but on the Internet they're selling for $400 to $500."
Woolly confirmed some of the shoppers at the local mall earn Friday were Internet entrepreneurs.
"There was a group from Oklahoma City who told us (police) they represented some Internet company. They were there to buy the shoes and put them up for sale online," Woolly said.
Once the crowd had participated in the drawing and those lucky enough to have drawn one of the all important Shop With Cops numbers things simmered down. Woolly said as tempers cooled some of the officers returned to their regular assignments.
Ardmore wasn't the only place where police were called in to make sure the limited edition offer remained peaceful. Officers in Fort Worth, Texas used pepper spray to quell what was described as "out of control" shoppers at a mall. In Houston a man reportedly was in critical condition after being shot Friday in an armed robbery demand for the coveted shoes he had just purchased.
Woolly had one word to describe what happened in Ardmore. "Amazing," he said.