PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) - A shooting took place inside a toy store Friday and two people were killed, authorities said.
The violence erupted on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving start of the holiday shopping surge, but accounts of what occurred inside the store were fragmentary or second hand and it was not clear whether it involved any shopping frenzy.
The Palm Desert Police Department received calls of shots fired around 11:35 a.m., Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said.
"We have two dead individuals inside the store," he said. "The events of why the shots were fired is still ongoing."
Toys 'R' Us officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Palm Desert is about 120 miles east of Los Angeles. The Toys 'R' Us store is located at Fred Waring Road and Highway 111.
Immediately after the shooting, about 20 people rushed into the World Gym across the street from Toys 'R' Us, the gym's assistant manager Glenn Splain told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
"They were crying, tearing and shaking," Splain said, adding that one woman came in cradling a baby.
"Some people got into a fight," said Splain, who spoke with some of the customers. "One of the guys here thought it was over a toy but it got louder and louder and then there were gunshots."
Sarah Pacia of Cathedral City told The Desert Sun newspaper she was in the store with her two boys, ages 4 and 6, looking at coloring books when she heard a commotion in the next aisle. She thought it was people rushing to get a sale item. Then she heard three or four shots.
She said she froze, and store employees calmly escorted her out of the store.
"This is Toys 'R' Us. There are kids shopping in there," Pacia said. Her son Jayden, 4, was clinging to her leg. He told her he didn't want to die, she said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)