Nov. 29, 2013— -- It was only a few hours into the annual Black Friday shopping sales this year when the Twitter hashtag #WalmartFights began trending, encouraging users to post photos and videos of shoppers getting violent at Walmart stores.
People using the hashtag posted photos and videos of bloody noses, paramedics wheeling stretchers, women smacking one another on the head, security officers wrestling shoppers to the ground and employees yelling at shoppers to stop recording the melees on their cellphones.
One Walmart shopper uploaded a video to YouTube showing a fight and claimed he was thrown out of the store for videotaping it.
The hashtag was just one sign of mounting violence at Black Friday sales around the country this year. In Las Vegas, a shopper was walking down the street with a big screen TV he had purchased shortly after midnight when he was shot by a passerby.
In Chicago, a man accused of attempting to shoplift from a Kohl's store fled to his car, trapping a police officer's arm in the door and taking off, prompting police to fire shots at his vehicle.
A man in Virginia was stabbed at Walmart during an argument over a parking spot before many Americans had even finished eating Thanksgiving dinner, at round 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. Police in Rialto, Calif., endured injuries when breaking up a brawl outside Walmart.
The website BlackFridayDeathCount.com was set up to track the deaths and injuries caused by Black Friday violence in recent years. There have been no reported deaths this year.
Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said Friday morning that the Black Friday sales on Thursday were "bigger, better, and safer than ever from coast to coast.
"It's been the safest Black Friday with millions of shoppers at our 4,000 locations across the country. There were some isolated incidents that were resolved quickly through the help of our store associates, and in some cases with the help of local law enforcement. We're very happy with our safety plans and how they worked," Buchanan told ABC News.
The company said it had some 22 million shoppers come through its stores in a four-hour period on Thursday night.