Law enforcement officials pushed back hundreds of people who were crowding around a large pile of merchandise outside an Augusta grocery store Tuesday afternoon.
But the goods sitting in the parking lot of the Laney Supermarket didn't make into anyone's hands.
Instead, the food people hoped to take home was tossed into the trash.
"People have children out here that are hungry, thirsty, could be anything. Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?" asked Robertstine Lambert.
The Marshal of Richmond County, Steve Smith, says the food wasn't theirs to give away, so they had to trash it.
"We don't have authority to take possession of the property; we just have to make sure that it's handled, disposed of by law," Smith, said.
SunTrust Bank in Atlanta owns the property and they're sending the merchandise to the landfill after evicting the Chois, the owners of the grocery store.
The Chois didn't want to speak on camera but they say they were kicked out by the bank because they owe them thousands of dollars.
They say they offered the food to a church, but members didn't show up to claim it.That's when word that store products were abandoned spread through the community.
About 300 people came to take merchandise home, but they were held back by law enforcement.
"These are brand new items; we saw the potential for a riot was extremely high," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Jennifer Santiago was forced to leave empty handed and she says trashing the merchandise is truly a waste.
"For them to do this is a low blow. A lot of people are sad, a lot of people aren't going to have food to put on their table; this is ridiculous," she said.
The Chois say they were notified by the bank on Friday that they would be evicted on Tuesday.
They say they didn't move out earlier because they wanted to work up to the last minute.
Officials estimated 200 to 300 people filled the parking lot at Laney Supermarket, 843 Laney-Walker Blvd., after word spread that the Richmond County Marshal’s Office was enforcing an eviction at the business.
Officials said onlookers became angry when they learned they would not be allowed to take away food and other sundries that were piled outside the grocery as “abandoned property.”
The crowd dissipated after a swarm of deputies arrived, along with Sheriff Richard Roundtree, to assist the three marshals who had been initially assigned to the eviction.
“There is the potential to have people fighting and causing problems,” Lt. Calvin Chew said. “That’s not something we want.”
There were no arrests in the resulting confusion, but groups of people remained to watch the proceedings, many clutching empty bags and grumbling.
Tiffany Serles said she heard about the eviction from her aunt who lives nearby.“She said they evicting Gurley’s,” Serles said, referring to the former name of the neighborhood market. “So, I came down here to get some of the stuff.”
Serles was watching with several friends while workers scooped up the food and other merchandise in trash cans which were in turn dumped into two garbage bins that officials said were destined for the Richmond County landfill.
“It’s a shame that they are just throwing all this stuff away and not even donating it to a shelter or anything,” she said.
Her friend, Victoria Williams, said she heard about the eviction on Facebook, as did many others. Word spread fast, and soon the parking lot was packed with people and cars waiting for a chance to take away the spoils.
“There are people with babies who need diapers out here,” she said.