SHORT PUMP, Va. — A team of archaeologists from Columbia University made a stunning discovery during an expedition to the Short Pump community — the remains of a resident trampled during the mall’s first Black Friday in 2003.
The exciting find was made during the excavation of the Macy’s parking lot in Short Pump Town Center, the group’s primary dig site. According to Stefan Dabrowski, the university professor leading the team, it caught everyone by surprise.
“Our main objective was to find any artifacts and material remains from the early Short Pump era, pre-1990,” Dabrowski commented, noting that the team had failed to make any significant findings prior to this discovery. “When we first broke ground, all we found were trashed Starbucks cups and receipts from Brookstone, and even those started to thin out as we dug deeper. We had no idea that we’d actually find the skeleton of a former patron of the mall.”
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Based on extensive DNA analysis of the bone fragments, the group has confirmed that the remains are those of a Glen Allen resident who attempted to go shopping at the mall on Black Friday in 2003. The mall’s infamous inaugural year saw thousands of vigilant shoppers descending upon stores for special bargains and sales. Violent brawls, melees, and combat over discounted products were a common sight, and casualties from the bloody event have been estimated to be in the hundreds.
“This person likely isn’t the only one buried here,” Dabrowski said. “We believe that we’re on top of a graveyard of former holiday shoppers.”
Analysis of the bones revealed multiple fractures and chest abrasions, indicating that the victim was likely trampled to death by other shoppers. Carbon dating and other evidence found near the skeleton were used to pinpoint the date of death.
“She was found with a shopping bag from Dick’s Sporting Goods that had a receipt from November 23 of that year,” Dabrowski explained, adding that further evidence of the date was found in a purse still gripped in the skeleton’s hand.
“Her purse also contained a receipt from Best Buy for a 32’’ Samsung TV for $159. Not a bad buy, honestly.”
The remains were fully excavated and have been sent to Columbia University for further study. Dabrowski expressed excitement about the possibility of uncovering additional bodies.
“This is a real gem of a find. It reminds of us the time we found 10 shoppers at Richmond International Raceway from the $50 iBook sale back in 2005. We even got a laptop from one of them!”