The Nassau County police arrived soon after the call, and, using bullhorns, ordered everyone to get back behind the barriers. The police were still there at four, when Sooknanan returned to the store. Shortly afterward, a Wal-Mart employee brought some family members inside the barriers, angering the crowd. About two hundred shoppers pushed into the buffer zone. Those in front were squeezed against two sliding glass outer doors that led into a glassed-in, high-ceilinged entrance vestibule that also held some vending machines. These had been pushed to the center of the space, to prevent people from crossing it diagonally and entering through the exit doors. As more people gathered, in anticipation of the store’s opening, at 5 A.M., the pressure on the doors built and they began to shake. “Push the doors in!” some chanted from the back.
Bottled water included small (0.5 L) and large (3.8 L), individually sealed water bottles as well as water vended into reusable containers from self-service vending machines or from water stores.
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Dennis Fitch, one of the workers standing at the entrance, was blown backward, through the inner vestibule doors and into the store. Others managed to jump to safety atop the vending machines. Some attempted to form a human chain on the other side of the vestibule, to slow down the crowd rushing into the store. A crush soon developed inside the vestibule, but the people who were still outside, pushing forward, weren’t aware of it. Leana Lockley was carried through the vestibule and into the store by the surge, and she tripped over an older woman, who was on the ground. As she got to her knees, she later said, she saw Damour next to her. “I was screaming that I was pregnant, I am sure he heard that,” she told Newsday. “He was trying to block the people from pushing me down to the ground and trampling me. . . . It was a split second, and we had eye contact as we knew we were going to die.”