Fights broke out and two people were cited Friday morning outside the Pasadena Apple Store, where nearly a hundred people had been hired to stand in line for a businessman who planned to resell newly released iPhone models.
Dozens of homeless people had waited overnight and planned to obtain the prized Apple devices for a businessman who had hired them for $20 per iPhone, according to a man who gave his name as Bobby and said he worked for the buyer. Those in line had been given tickets by the store that could be used to purchase iPhones after doors opened.
“I got most of them (in) downtown LA,” Bobby said of those he had hired. “Twenty bucks a ticket, feed them … take care of them, make sure they’re warm.”
Another man, whom Bobby said he worked for, told gathered news media that his business was to buy and resell iPhones abroad, and that he had others working for him at Apple Store locations elsewhere in Southern California.
Bobby said he had coordinated the effort at the Pasadena store, hiring 98 people to stand in line.
Police had heard about transients standing in line for another man, but officers were not investigating, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“Nothing illegal about that,” Clawson said.
Apple on Friday released the new iPhone 5S and 5C, and lines were formed hours in advance at stores around the country.
At the Pasadena store, two men were taken into custody after a fist-fight broke out at 7:40 a.m., Clawson said. They were later cited for fighting in public, he said.
About 200 people were in line at the Apple Store before it opened at 8 a.m., Clawson said.
A man who said he was homeless told KTLA he had been given pizza, soda and cigarettes by the person who hired him.
But in the morning, many of those in line were told they could not buy iPhones. When they did not receive their payment, some were angry.
That resulted in a confrontation with the self-identified businessman who hired those who had waited in line, and who himself left the store with about a dozen iPhones, according to witnesses. The businessman was taken away from the scene in a police patrol car, a KTLA producer said.
A man who identified himself as homeless told KTLA that he had stood in line since 6 p.m. Thursday and received two tickets to purchase iPhones inside that evening, but was unable to redeem them Friday.
“I’m homeless. There’s about 50 of us who are homeless here, camped out here all night. There’s my mat over there on the wall,” the man said.
“It seemed to be a problem, or some kind of miscommunication,” the man continued. “They were not taking our tickets inside, they were taking them away from us.”
Another woman said she had been hired from a downtown Los Angeles Skid Row shelter and offered the same deal, but did not get her $40 and now had no way to get home, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The homeless man said he felt like a “pigeon pooped” on his head after not getting paid. He said he planned to head back to downtown Los Angeles and find another way to make money.
“Some said they got paid; I didn’t get mine,” the homeless man said.
“If he is a scam artist, he should get what he deserves for it,” he said of the businessman.