Air Jordan shoe frenzy sweeps Bay Area malls

A newly-purchased Air Jordans sneaker is shown in front of a line of customers at the Nike Store at Union Square Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 in San Francisco. The release of Nike's retro Air Jordans caused a frenzy at stores across the nation early Friday, with hundreds of people lining up for a chance to buy the classic basketball shoes and rowdy crowds breaking down doors and starting fights in at least two cities. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

December 23, 2011 7:44:13 PM PST
Michael Jordan hasn't played in the NBA since 2003, but the frenzy over his shoes is as intense as ever. There was commotion, fights, even gunfire as shoppers waited all night and even broke down doors at shopping malls to buy the newest pair of Air Jordans.

Clearly the supply was way out of whack with the demand for the shoes. In some places, the crowds got so out of hand the shoe sales had to be shut down.

The frenzied scene was common all over the country. At one mall in Stockton, shoppers pushed and shoved to get their hands on a pair of $180 Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords.

At Hilltop Mall in Richmond, gunfire rang out just before 7 a.m. when a 24-year-old man in line for Jordans mistakenly fired his weapon. The man was arrested and no one was hurt.

"Right now, it's in the infancy stages of the investigation, but it appears it may have been a negligent discharge or an accidental discharge," Richmond Police Lt. Lori Curran said.

"The shooting, it was really nothing, it was just a little firecracker and the police, they just decided to shut it down because they didn't have the situation controlled," shopper Jonathan Del Valle said.

The mall shut down sales for a time, but later resumed.

At least some of those who bought the pricey shoes walked out and immediately resold them for a profit.

At the Westfield Solano Mall in Fairfield, dozens of police officers from four agencies responded when more than 1,000 shoppers showed up early and pushed a mall door off its hinges.

"The crowd was pushing up against the door on the upper level on the south side and pushed it off its tracks," Fairfield Police Lt. Joe Allio said.

Despite all the commotion, one young man managed to buy one of just 180 pairs before they sold out.

"I barely got in, but I was able to squeeze in and get my pair; it was lucky for me, I was very fortunate," Stephen Panis said.

Besides the one arrest in Richmond, two people in Fairfield were arrested, one for assaulting a police officer.

In contrast to what happened in Richmond and at some other malls, Serramonte Center in Daly City reported no problems. They handed out numbered wrist bands a day ahead of time so that only those who knew they'd get in showed up.

At Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, it went from mob-scene to ghost town when the two shoe stores there sold-out of the new Jordans by early morning.