Conn. man charged after racist comment, tirade at smoothie shop, police say
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WFSB/Gray News) – A Connecticut man has been charged by police after allegedly yelling and throwing things at employees at a smoothie shop.
WFSB reports that 48-year-old James Iannazzo has been charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace, and criminal trespass.
Iannazzo bought a smoothie at a Robeks smoothie shop around 1 p.m. and left, according to police.
Around 1:40 p.m., Iannazzo called 911 and requested emergency services to his home for his son, who was suffering from an allergic reaction. Police say the son was transported to an area hospital.
Iannazzo then returned to the Robeks a short time later and confronted the employees working there. Police say Iannazzo yelled at the employees and demanded to know who made the smoothie that contained peanuts, which caused the allergic reaction.
When the Robeks employees could not provide Iannazzo with an answer, he became irate and started cursing and throwing things at employees, police said. Iannazzo allegedly threw a drink at an employee which hit their right shoulder. The employee did not report any pain or injury from this incident.
According to police, Iannazzo made comments towards an employee referencing their immigration status.
Iannazzo was asked to leave multiple times by the Robeks employees. Police said Iannazzo did not leave the establishment and continued to yell at the employees.
Iannazzo then attempted to open a door that led to an “Employees Only” area but could not get in because the door was locked.
Police said Iannazzo left before they arrived at the store, but he later peacefully turned himself in.
Iannazzo told officers he was upset that his son had a severe allergic reaction and had gone back to the store because of that.
The employees reported Iannazzo never mentioned a peanut allergy, and had only asked that there be no peanut butter in his drink.
Charli Hill, a high schooler and employee of Robeks, took video of the incident.
“He started to call her racial slurs. He threatened to kill us multiple times,” Hill said. “I understand and we are sorry on behalf of Robeks for how the smoothie was made, but it gives you absolutely no right to act out like that.”
Gianna Miranda was the teen who was hit by the smoothie.
“It was kind of scary, I’m not going to lie, because I’m like I don’t know his intention or what he was going to do,” she said.
Iannazzo released a statement after the incident.
“My actions at Robek’s were wrong, and I deeply regret them,” the statement reads in part. “They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely.”
Iannazzo’s court date is scheduled for Feb. 7 at Bridgeport Superior Court.
Merrill Lynch, where Iannazzo was employed, released a statement saying it “does not tolerate behavior of this kind” and that Iannazzo was fired after an investigation.
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