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Woman surrenders in Black Friday pepper spray incident

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 4:51 PM EST, Sat November 26, 2011
"I saw people around me, they got it really bad," said one person who was shopping when the incident occurred.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The woman isn't charged yet because detectives are still investigating
  • Authorities aren't releasing her name
  • Ten Black Friday shoppers were pepper sprayed in a California Walmart

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A southern California woman turned herself in to authorities as the person who pepper sprayed video-game shoppers in a Walmart during Black Friday's shopping frenzy, Los Angeles police said Saturday.

The woman has not been charged because detectives are continuing their investigation into the incident that required firefighters to treat 10 people for exposure to pepper spray, authorities said. The woman's name wasn't released Saturday, police said.

"We have her identity and we know who she is and where she is at. When appropriate action needs to be taken, we know where to find her," said Officer Bruce Borihanh, a police spokesman. "She's a suspect, but she's not booked or anything, so we're not releasing her name.

"The detectives have a lot to do. They have to interview a bunch of witnesses, the victims themselves, and from there they will determine what action needs to be taken," Borihanh said.

The woman turned herself in Friday night at the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire station in Northridge, California, Borihanh said.

The pepper-spraying incident, which occurred in a Walmart in the nearby Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch, occurred Thursday night.

Borihanh said he didn't have information explaining why the woman took about 24 hours to turn herself in.

Black Friday shopping was marked by violence in at least seven states, including California.

Caught on tape: Pepper-sprayed shoppers

At the Walmart in Porter Ranch, the pepper-spraying incident occurred when a woman doused fellow shoppers with the spray as people were grabbing for Xbox video game consoles, police said.

The suspect was able to pay for her purchases and leave the store before police arrived, authorities said.

On Friday afternoon, police described her as a Hispanic woman, 32 to 38 years of age, 5-foot-3, 140 pounds and wearing black pants and a black sweater.

Police said Friday that the woman's action didn't appear to be self-defense and that charges such as spraying a caustic compound would be determined later.

One witness to the incident, Juan Castro, said he and other shoppers were hunting for "deals," when a woman began using pepper spray. He was trying to buy a Wii video game at $20, marked down from a typical $60, he said.

"I don't know if she felt threatened or she felt she had to do that to get what she wanted," Castro told CNN on Friday.

"I didn't see her personally, but I sure got the scent of the mace. I got it in my throat. It was burning. I saw people around me, they got it really bad. As you see in the video, some woman was crying 'my eyes, my eyes,'" Castro said.

"I tried to get away as quickly as possible because I didn't think it was worth it. No deal's worth that," he said.

Violent incidents also occurred in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Alabama and Connecticut, with most of the reported incidents happening at or near Walmart stores.

Despite the reports, Walmart said the day's shopping frenzy had been remarkably safe for shoppers at its thousands of stores nationwide.

"There were a few unfortunate incidents but overall we have received very positive feedback from our customers," Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said.

In 2008, crowds of frantic Black Friday shoppers trampled a Walmart employee in New York as he and other workers tried to unlock the door at 5 a.m.

CNN's Sandra Endo and Michael Cary contributed to this report

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