FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A Fairfield man seen in a now-viral video throwing a drink at employees of a local smoothie shop and yelling racist comments has been fired by his employer, FOX61 has confirmed.
He has apologized for his actions after being arrested.
The video, recorded by an employee at a Robeks, located at 2061 Black Rock Turnpike, went viral Saturday night. It showed a man confronting employees and yelling at them.
In the video, he demanded to know who made the smoothie, and when employees could not tell him, the man became mad, yelling at employees and using a number of expletives. At one point, he is seen throwing a drink at an employee. He can also be heard making comments toward an employee referencing their immigration status.
The man, James Iannazzo, 48, of Fairfield, issued a statement through his attorney.
"My actions at Robek’s were wrong, and I deeply regret them. They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely," he said.
Merrill Lynch confirmed that Iannazzo has been fired.
"Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind," the company said in a statement. "We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm."
The video, taken by one of the employees, was posted on TikTok on Saturday and quickly went viral.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
Police said Sunday they received numerous calls from employees from the shop around 2:26 p.m. on Saturday. The employees said a customer was throwing things, yelling at employees, and refusing to leave.
They said about an hour and 15 minutes earlier, Iannazzo had purchased a drink at Robeks and left the store without incident.
Sometime later, around 1:39 p.m., a 911 call was made by Iannazzo requesting an EMS response to his home for a child suffering from an allergic reaction. The child was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
According to police, Iannazzo returned to the smoothie shop and the incident escalated after making his demands. He claimed that the smoothie he purchased contained peanuts, causing his child’s allergic reaction.
"I had returned to Robek’s to determine what ingredients were in the smoothie that I had previously ordered," Iannazzo said in his statement. "I made my regrettable comments because my 17-year-old son was taken to the hospital suffering from life threatening anaphylactic shock. He collapsed at our home while drinking the smoothie from Robek’s, which contained some sort of nut product, after I had advised them of his nut allergy when I ordered his drink."
According to police, employees reported that Iannazzo never told them about the peanut allergy but had only requested that there be no peanut butter in his drink.
Iannazzo said his son lost his capacity to breathe after starting to drink the smoothie, collapsed in the bathroom and required at least two doses from an EpiPen before first responders arrived.
"Thank God, he is doing okay. I’d like to thank my wife and the first responders who I believe saved his life," he said. "This is the worst nightmare of every parent whose child has a similar allergy."
Employees told Iannzzo to leave multiple times but he remained inside the shop and continued to yell insults at the employees. Police said the man attempted to open a locked door that led to an “Employees Only” area where the employees were behind the counter.
Police said Iannazzo left the store before police arrived. After he was identified, he turned himself in to authorities telling officers that he was upset about his son having a severe allergic reaction and he went back to the store as a result.
"I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robek’s, and I wish I had not done so. I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage," he said in his statement. "I will be extending my apologies personally to the Robek’s organization, particularly the staff that was working there that night."
Iannazzo was arrested and charged with Intimidation Based on Bigotry or Bias in the Second Degree, Breach of Peace in the Second Degree and Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. He was issued a court appearance date of February 7 at Bridgeport Superior Court.
The attorney for Iannazzo, Frank J. Riccio II, released a statement for his client, saying his client, "is not a racist individual and regrets his statement and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress."
Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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