Rockland shoppers freak over sneakers; 2 arrested

The Air Jordan XX8 on display during the The Air Jordan XX8 on display during the Dare To Fly AJXX8 event in New York. (Dec. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Nearly 10 years after basketball great Michael Jordan's retirement, shoes named after him had a crowd at a Rockland County shopping mall committing flagrant fouls Monday morning, police said.

Police had to shut down a raffle for the right to buy a pair of high-end Air Jordan basketball shoes -- the new model from Nike -- after a crowd at the Palisades Center in West Nyack became unruly and fights broke out, Clarkstown police Sgt. Steven Chernick said. Chernick said that two people were arrested.

A crowd began to gather for the raffle about 4 a.m. at the Champs Sports store on the mall's second floor, Chernick said. The crowd grew to about 300 people by 6:30, and at that time four Clarkstown police units were sent in for crowd control. About 7 a.m., two hours before the store's 9 a.m. opening, incidents of "pushing, shoving and small fights" flared up, bringing six more units to the mall, Chernick said.

Police dispersed the crowd and canceled the raffle "in the interest of public safety," Chernick said. One 15-year-old from New City refused to leave and was charged with disorderly conduct, then released to his mother, Chernick said.

But it was only halftime.

A short time later, another crowd lined up in front of the first-floor Foot Locker store and began pushing and shoving, Chernick said. Police and mall security arrived and dispersed the crowd.

Alberto Francillon, 26, of Spring Valley, refused police orders to leave the mall and was charged with misdemeanor trespass, Chernick said. Francillon was given an appearance ticket and released.

A man answering the phone at Francillon's home said he was unavailable for comment Monday. No information on Francillon's lawyer was immediately available.

Police aren't sure what caused the morning crowd to act up, Chernick said.

"If I had to guess, it was probably just the size of the crowd," he said.

A review of conversations and promotions on the Internet revealed that a pair of Air Jordan sneakers usually costs $80 to $220, depending on the model, but that certain "retro" models can fetch prices in excess of $500.

Jordan was a five-time Most Valuable Player in the National Basketball Association. He won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, along with an Olympic gold medal, during a 15-year professional career. He retired in 2003 after two seasons with the Washington Wizards.

The manager at Champs Sports at the mall declined to comment Monday. Phones were not answered at the Foot Locker store.

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