Police called after Pa. crowd mobs toy giveaway

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – A crowd grew unruly at a western Pennsylvania toy distribution event Friday, and the Salvation Army shut the program down for a day.


Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said in a statement that police were called to the North Avenue toy giveaway at about noon. Authorities reported that the crowd became unruly after some people cut in front of a long waiting line.


People surged into the facility when the doors opened and the Salvation Army did not have enough staff to control the situation, so the distribution was shut down for a day.


The center said they added extra workers and were open without any reported problems on Saturday.


Salvation Army spokeswoman Ginny Knor told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that she could not remember any similar dust-ups in her 20 years with the charitable group. Knor said more people sought help this year from the North Side center – about 1,500, up from 1,100 in 2012.


Knor told the paper that many people showed up before their designated pickup times, which contributed to the crowding. Workers at the center called police for help, but Knor said that might not have been necessary if people had showed up at their appointed time.


Knor attributed the demand primarily to the sour economy.


“I think there’s just so many more people in need,” she said. “We do our best to attend to them.”


There were no arrests or injuries.


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