Police search for Wal-Mart shoppers who trampled NY worker to death

Temporary worker mowed down as about 2,000 bargain-hunters surge through the store's doors at 5:00 a.m. opening.

wal-mart crush 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
wal-mart crush 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Police are reviewing surveillance video of a post-Thanksgiving shopper stampede that trampled a suburban Wal-Mart worker to death, but they acknowledge it may be tough to bring criminal charges. Nassau County police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said no new information was available Saturday on the brutal incident, which rattled shoppers even as they flocked to the Long Island store a day later. "It felt a little freakish," customer Ellie Berhun, 48, told the Daily News. "Some man lost his life because a VCR was on sale? Please. It's just too sad for words." Police said the temporary worker, Jdimytai Damour, was mowed down as about 2,000 bargain-hunters surged through the store's doors at Friday's 5:00 a.m. opening. Other workers were knocked to the ground as they tried to rescue Damour, and customers simply stepped over him and kept shopping even as the store announced it was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said. At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or treatment for minor injuries. The store, about 20 miles east of Manhattan, closed for several hours but reopened Friday afternoon. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it has traditionally marked the point when a throng of shoppers pushes stores into profitability for the year. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart said it added staffers and outside security workers and put up barricades to try to prepare for the crush. But police spokesman Detective Lt. Michael Fleming said Friday that security was inadequate for a scene he called "utter chaos." Criminal charges are possible, but identifying anyone in the store's videos may prove difficult, Fleming said. Damour, 34, came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store, Wal-Mart said. Family friend Ronald Jean Myrthil told Newsday that Damour was an easygoing literature buff - a fan of poetry and the late novelist Donald Goines - who would put himself out for friends. After Myrthil walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to flee Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, Damour came to pick him up, Myrthil said. Damour, who lived in Queens, graduated from Freeport High School on Long Island and attended Nassau Community College for a year, his father, Ogera Charles, told Newsday. Suffolk County police said a shopper at a Wal-Mart in Farmingdale, about 15 miles east of the Valley Stream location, reported being trampled by overeager customers at around the same time Damour was killed. The woman suffered minor injuries but finished shopping before she filed the report, police said.