As any mom knows, a solo trip to Target is sacred. And the last thing this California mom was likely expecting was the alarming series of events that occurred during her trip to the beloved store last spring—that ended with her in the hospital.
On Sunday, March 26, Lana Clay-Monaghan was browsing the aisles and looking for summer clothes for her 8-month-old twin boys.
“I was excited because summer is coming and I get to buy everything in twos,” Clay-Monaghan tells TODAY.com. “So I was super focused.”
While she was shopping, she says she “felt this thing come over me.”
“Instantly it was dark,” she says. “I started screaming, but it was really close to my face so I couldn’t really catch my breath. I couldn’t get it off.”
Authorities later identified the contraption as a bucket, but in the moment Clay-Monaghan says she was so “abruptly frightened” that she started waving her arms in an attempt to free herself, since she had no idea what was happening.
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“I got it off and I looked over my shoulder. It was a couple of guys. They had their phones out and they were taping me and they were laughing,” she recalled. “I tried to say something but nothing came out.”
Clay-Monaghan tried to shout, “Help me, I have epilepsy” but couldn’t. She fell to the ground and her head “smashed into the ground” after that.
In a press release, the responding authorities from the Tustin Police Department said “four male juveniles entered Target” at approximately 2:45 p.m., walking around before “one of them picked up a bucket and placed it over the head of an adult female shopper.”
“As a result of the incident, the female shopper likely fainted and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition and a police report was taken,” the statement said. “It is likely the juveniles were attempting to replicate the current social media trend where they place a bucket on a stranger’s head and film their reaction. There is no current threat to the community.”
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The social media prank had been trending on platforms like TikTok—where a group of people places a bucket/lampshade/garbage can on the head of an unsuspecting person, usually in a store. The thing about pranks, especially physical ones, is that you can never truly predict how they’re going to go. Particularly when you don’t know the person you’re playing the prank on. And this is one prank that went from “juvenile fun” to “extremely preventable horrific incident” rather quickly.
Clay-Monaghan says she lost consciousness and only regained it “slightly in the ambulance where they were asking me questions.”
“I was really disoriented and so I didn’t really get it together until I was in this trauma hospital,” Clay-Monaghan says. “I thought to myself: ‘It’s my turn.’ I thought I was in a shooting, because the last thing I remembered was being in a public place.
“When I woke up, they told me I’m an assault victim,” she adds. “My clothes were cut off.”
Every single part of this “prank” is traumatic, and it makes your heart hurt for this poor mama. All she wanted to do was buy cute baby clothes at her favorite store, and look what happened.
Bloodwork taken at the hospital indicated that Clay-Monaghan had an “acute heart issue” she says. Her physician told her that she likely seized when she hit the ground, but it was the heart issue that caused her to faint.
In a written statement provided to TODAY.com, a Target spokesperson says “The safety of our guests and team members is Target’s top priority.”
“Our hearts go out to the victim of this incident, and we appreciate the efforts of our team members who provided immediate assistance,” the spokesperson said. “We take any form of harassment seriously and are working closely with the Tustin Police Department as they investigate.”
A version of this story was originally published on April 6, 2023. It has been updated.