James Iannazzo, the Merrill Lynch employee who was fired after going on an anti-immigrant tirade at a Connecticut smoothie shop and throwing a drink at a worker has defended himself in a statement he made to the police.
The man became furious after his 17-year-old son was served a smoothie that contained peanut butter. The teen had a peanut allergy, which caused him to reportedly collapse and require hospitalisation. Mr Iannazzo claims the workers were explicitly told not to include anything with peanuts in the smoothie due to his son’s allergy.
He was later arrested.
“I had returned to Robek’s to determine what ingredients were in the smoothie that I had previously ordered,” Mr Iannazzo said in his statement to police. “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.”
The exchange was captured in a TikTok video, which shows an irate Mr Iannazzo demanding to know who made his son’s smoothie. The employees say they don’t know, as there are four of them making drinks, which further agitates Mr Iannazzo. He begins insulting the workers and eventually throws a drink at one of them, prompting them to call the police.
He then calls one of the workers a “stupid immigrant,” which infuriates the workers, who call him a racist and say he’s “going to jail.” He then begins pushing on the door to the employee work area before he leaves.
Mr Iannazzo issued a statement through his attorney after the incident began spreading on social media.
“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 Mr Iannazzo was fired after the incident provoked outrage on social media.
“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 backlash against Mr Iannazzo continued after his firing. Individuals began bombing his Google review rating with one star reviews in response to the video.
“I would rate zero stars if I could. Enjoy being in the unemployment line while the ‘immigrants’ are out here actually earning their money,” one of the reviews said.
Another reviewer said they would give him a “zero but my only option is a 1. Stinky.”