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iPhone brawls erupt outside Pasadena Apple store

September 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fights erupted outside the Pasadena Apple store Friday morning, as the frenzy for the new iPhone 5S and 5C models reached new heights.

Punches were thrown just outside the doors of the Pasadena Apple store. Police stormed in and arrested two men. Later, two women -- one of them pregnant -- got into a brawl on the ground, as their boyfriends faced off in an angry confrontation. One of those men ended up running into the street, throwing himself against a passing truck. He too was detained by police. In total, three people were arrested.

The violence unfolded as hundreds of people stood in line for hours, a handful of them for several days, waiting to buy the new iPhone 5S or the 5C. Another added element this time, aside from the heated brawls, was the fact that 80-100 people in line were shuttled in from Skid Row.

"It ballooned really quickly. In the end, a huge group came in behind us," described one witness.

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Witnesses say the people were driven into Pasadena by a man who promised to pay them $20 in exchange for each iPhone claim ticket they handed him.

"I buy phones and I resell them...for a lot more," said the man, who did not wish to be identified. "It's not illegal. It's not against the law. I'm buying them at full retail price."

Police agree - it's not illegal. But Apple Corporate caught wind of the man's plan and refused to sell him more than about a dozen phones. He, in turn, refused to pay the Skid Row folks who waited in line. That's when the chaos erupted.

"All I know is that we sat here, and now we're not being paid," said one woman.

"He got us down here, we spent the night all night. We got no money, we got nothing," said another person from Skid Row.

The man behind the resell scheme was later confronted by the Skid Row crowd, demanding money and clawing at the phones in his hands. Police had to drive him away for his safety.

Meantime, Apple fans who braved a long night watched in disgust, saying all of it seemed unfair.

"It's annoying to hear all this ruckus all night, yelling, cussing, smoking cigarettes. I feel like it wasn't fair for them to just sit out here, but it happens. It's life," said Dariel Johnson, a Pasadena resident.

Even amid the drama, the die-hard iPhone fans were still excited for the iPhone 5S and 5C.

Francisco Naranjo, who got the first iPhone 5S from the store, came out victorious.

"I think, for me, it's pretty fun," said Naranjo.

The iPhone 5S is available in silver, gold and gray and runs a new chip, the A7, that is up to twice as fast as the A6. It has a fingerprint reader, called Touch ID, so instead of entering a passcode, you can just touch the home button to unlock the phone.

The 5S also has a better camera with larger pixels, called iSight. There's a two-tone flash feature that is designed not to clash with the colors in the room or a person's skin color. The camera also has "auto image stabilization" to avoid blurry pictures and a slow-motion camera for video.

The iPhone 5S starts at $199 with a two-year contract for the 16-gigabyte model.

The iPhone 5C is the less expensive version, available in green, blue, yellow, pink and white. The 5C costs $99 for a 16-gigabyte model and $199 for a 32 gigabyte model with a two-year wireless contract.

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