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iPhone homeless scheme leads to chaos in California

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSA police officer guards the entrance of the Apple store as customers wait in line for the latest versions of the iPhone during the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. An overnight campout for the new iPhone turned chaotic earlier Friday morning when two men were arrested for fighting outside an Apple Store and a man's plan to hire homeless people to wait in line for the coveted devices backfired, authorities said. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police officer guards the entrance of the Apple store as customers wait in line for the latest versions of the iPhone during the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. An overnight campout for the new iPhone turned chaotic earlier Friday morning when two men were arrested for fighting outside an Apple Store and a man's plan to hire homeless people to wait in line for the coveted devices backfired, authorities said. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

PASADENA, Calif. » Things turned sour outside an Apple Store in Southern California when a man’s plan to hire the homeless to wait in line for anxiously awaited new iPhones resulted in an angry and mostly unpaid mob.

Two men in a separate incident had already been arrested for fighting in the overnight line outside the Apple Store on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena before the new gadgets were released on Friday, city police Lt. Jason Clawson said.

Police estimated that at least 200 people were on the sidewalk outside the store overnight. Some had been there for several days. The store hired two Pasadena police officers to control the crowd, Clawson said.

He said that dozens of people recruited at a downtown Los Angeles homeless shelter to buy the iPhones were left unpaid, and they mobbed the man who had hired them. He was taken away in a police car for his own safety as he clutched a bag stuffed with iPhones.

"It didn’t go right. I stood out here all night," Dominoe Moody, 43, told the . He said he was promised $40, but neither he nor most of the 70 to 80 people driven from downtown by the vanload got paid.

Television news footage showed police breaking up several scuffles and calming down furious customers.

The man with the plan, whose name was not released by police and who refused to identify himself when confronted by TV cameras at the scene, did nothing illegal, and there would be no police investigation of the incident, Clawson said.

One of the homeless men was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold after running into the street in an enraged state, Clawson said.

Apple’s new iPhone models, the 5S and 5C, were released worldwide Friday.

In the earlier fistfight, George Westbrook, 23, of Compton, and Lamar Mitchell, 43, of Pasadena, were cited for fighting in public, a misdemeanor, Clawson said.

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