FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – An altercation at a Connecticut smoothie shop involving a father reportedly upset over his child’s allergic reaction was caught on video over the weekend and has gone viral.
James Iannazzo, 49, was arrested Saturday after police received multiple calls at 2:26 p.m. about a customer in Robeks smoothie shop in Fairfield who was throwing things, yelling at employees, and refusing to leave.
The incident was filmed and posted on TikTok that day, gaining more than 14 million views. Iannazzo also has reportedly lost his job over the incident.
According to Fairfield police, Iannazzo made a purchase at Robeks without an issue. Then around 1:39 p.m., he called 911 requesting an EMS come to his home for a juvenile having a reaction to a peanut allergy. The teenager was later taken to an area hospital.
Iannazzo reportedly returned to Robeks and confronted the employees, demanding to know who made the smoothie with peanuts that caused his son’s allergic reaction. One of the employees, Charli Hill, 17, began to film the situation as it escalated and later posted it on TikTok under the username @cjjbreezy.
The employees said they could not recall, and Iannazzo can be heard on the video shouting obscenities and derogatory/racial slurs. The employees asked him to leave the property as he grew more irate. He is seen throwing a full smoothie at employee Gianna Miranda before the police were called.
Iannazzo was asked to leave multiple times throughout the situation.
Iannazzo then attempted to open a locked door that led to an “Employees Only” area where the women were, according to police.
He left the shop before police arrived, but he was identified shortly thereafter. He turned himself in without incident, saying he was upset about his son’s severe allergic reaction.
According to police, Iannazzo said he never told the employees about the allergy but that he did request there be no peanut butter in the drink.
Miranda, who had been working at Robeks for 10 months, told WTNH she’s had her share of difficult customers but that there’s never been anyone “this aggressive” and was “never threatened to get killed by any of them.”
She said they were yelling in each other’s faces because she was mad, and “at that point, I really thought he was gonna throw something again or try to hit me or just something.”
“As a person who has had multiple customer service jobs, I’ve dealt with people like this. I don’t think we get paid enough to deal with it all,” said Miranda, who explained that she’s working at the shop to save money for a car and to go to college.
Iannazzo released a statement following the incident.
“My actions at Robeks were wrong, and I deeply regret them,” Iannazzo said in the statement. “They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely.”
Iannazzo said that he returned to Robeks to determine what ingredients were in the smoothie that he ordered earlier that day and made the comments because his 17-year-old son had suffered life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Iannazzo said the smoothie contained some sort of nut product, even though he advised the employees of his nut allergy when he originally ordered the drink.
“After he started to drink his smoothie, 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. 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 said he believes the first responders saved his son’s life, noting that this situation is “the worst nightmare of every parent whose child has a similar allergy.”
“I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robeks, and I wish I had not done so,” Iannazzo said. “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.”
Iannazzo was charged with second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, second-degree breach of peace, and first-degree criminal trespass.
Iannazzo also has been fired from his job at Merrill Lynch. The company sent this statement to WTNH: “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.”