Police estimated that 500 people were crowding the mall entrances at 7 a.m. in hopes of buying a pair of the sneakers, which sell for about $180 and are a re-release of a 1996 design said to be one of the most famous in the Air Jordan line.
At one point, crowds were ordered out of the mall after a disturbance in line, according to police scanner traffic.
Eric Harris said he bought a pair of the sneakers after waiting in line since 4 a.m. He said there was a lot of shoving and that deputies threatened the crowd with pepper spray before they were ordered outside.
Harris and his friends, who always buy Jordan shoes on their release dates, said lines are usually long but that this was one of the worst they could recall.
“It’s Christmastime,” Harris said. “Everybody wants their kids to have them.”
In Huntsville, Ala., police used pepper spray to calm unruly crowds lining up for the shoes outside a mall Thursday morning. News reports said the crowds gathered were seeking bands to ensure they could buy the shoes later. WAFF-TV reported that many refused to leave for medical treatment after being pepper sprayed.