A Connecticut man was arrested for hurling racist insults at employees of a local smoothie shop after his son allegedly had an allergic reaction that sent him to the hospital.
NBC New York reports James Iannazzo, 48, was arrested on charges of intimidation based on bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass Saturday in Fairfield, CT, after his rant was captured on camera.
According to Fairfield Police, Iannazzo purchased a smoothie at Robeks on Black Rock Turnpike about 1 p.m. Saturday. Roughly 30 minutes later, Iannazzo called 911 requesting an EMS response to his home for his son, who was suffering from an allergic reaction.
“My son lost the capacity to breathe properly; his lips and face swelled up, and he required an EpiPen shot, but it did not offer him relief,” Iannazzo told WTNH. “I called 911. My son then went to the bathroom, threw up and fell unconscious to the floor. He threw up again. My wife gave him another EpiPen while I called 911 again. Thank God, he is doing okay.”
Iannazzo subsequently returned to the store, where he made comments to an employee “referencing their immigration status,” demanding that he speak to whoever put peanut butter in his son’s drink. In a viral TikTok video of the incident, he can be heard referring to an employee as an “immigrant loser.”
“When employees could not provide Iannazzo with the answer he became irate, yelling at the employees using a number of expletives,” police said. “He then threw a drink at an employee, which hit their right shoulder.”
Following the incident, Merrill Lynch, where Iannazzo was employeed as a financial advisor, announced he “is no longer employed at our firm.”
“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind,” the company said in a statement to NBC New York on Sunday. “We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”
Meanwhile, in a statement to TMZ, Iannazzo apologized for his actions.
“My actions at Robeks were wrong, and I deeply regret them,” he said. “They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely.”
Iannazzo continued, “I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robeks, and I wish I had not done so. I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage. I will be extending my apologies personally to the Robeks organization, particularly the staff that was working there that night.”
Frank J. Riccio II, Iannazzo’s attorney, took to Twitter on Sunday to release a statement, alleging that his client “stressed to the staff that the product must not contain peanuts” and that Iannazzo’s son “has a life-threatening peanut allergy.”