Lawyers for a man in Connecticut maintain he's not "a racist individual" but that he threw a drink and questioned the immigration status of employees at a smoothie shop "out of anger."
James Iannazzo, 48, purchased a smoothie at a local Robeks. About 30 minutes later, his home phone was used to call 911 when he reported his child having an allergic reaction. The child was taken to the local hospital.
Minutes later, authorities say Iannazzo returned to Robeks, yelling at employees, demanding to know who caused his kid's allergic reaction by putting peanuts into the drink.
When employees couldn't respond, police say that's when Iannazzo went on a racist tirade, throwing a drink at one employee, and questioning another's citizenship and immigration status. He was asked to leave but not before attempting to get behind the counter through a locked "Employees Only" door.
Employees told police officers Iannazzo never mentioned an allergy, only to leave peanut butter out of the smoothie.
Iannazzo left before cops arrived, but was identified and eventually turned himself in. He now faces charges of intimidation based on race, criminal trespass, breach of peace, NBC News 4 reported.
A video of the incident went viral on TikTok, getting more than two million views. Iannazzo can clearly be heard screaming and vulgarly yelling at the workers.
Merrill Lynch, Iannazzo's now former employee responded quickly to the incident, saying he no longer worked for the firm.
"Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind. We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm," the company said.
Iannazzo's lawyer said the rant was a result of his "parental instincts" being "kicked in" and that "he acted out of anger and fear." "He is not a racist individual," the statement says, "and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress."