A chaotic brawl possibly involving more than two dozen customers broke out inside a Missouri Walmart and was caught on video, prompting police to launch a criminal investigation.
The violent melee took place in the self-checkout area inside the big-box store located off West Florissant Avenue in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson at around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
A cellphone recording of the fracas, which has since gone viral on social media platforms, shows people brutally punching, kicking and stomping on each other while screaming profanities.
Some of those involved in the altercation pick up poles and other objects, and use them to batter their foes. Others spray fire extinguishers, sending terrifying bystanders, including shoppers with kids, fleeing for their lives.
Ferguson Police Chief Frank McCall told the station KMOV4 that anywhere from 10 to 25 people were apparently involved in the scuffle, which he blasted as “disgraceful.”
According to the town’s top cop, the rumpus that was caught on video followed a minor incident that was said to have been handled internally and without the involvement of police earlier that evening.
“Apparently, it kicked back up shortly thereafter,” McCall said.
Police said they believe those involved in the fracas knew each other.
“We’ve never had an incident that involved 20 individuals in a brawl like that in a department store,” McCall told KSDK. “I don’t see really the purpose of it.”
Police officers responded to the scene at 9 p.m. to call about the brawl, but by then it was already dying down.
“We have been able to identify some individuals that were involved,” the chief said. “The fact that you have individuals that might have assaulted each other or had been assaulted, we have to ensure that they are prepared and willing to prosecute.”
McCall added that he was confident Walmart would be willing to press charges in this case because the store sustained some property damage in the chaos.
So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident and no injuries have been reported to the police.
Walmart has not commented on the cause of the violence in the Ferguson store, only saying that “our customers’ safety is our top priority.”