Robeks employee targeted in racist viral rant: ‘I just felt disrespected’

The Robeks employee who had a drink thrown at her and was called an “immigrant loser” in a video that went viral on TikTok said she initially couldn’t believe it was happening.

News 12 Staff

Jan 24, 2022, 11:55 PM

Updated 910 days ago


The Robeks employee who had a drink thrown at her and was called an “immigrant loser” in a video that went viral on TikTok said she initially couldn’t believe it was happening.
Gianna Miranda, 18, of Stratford, told News 12, “I've seen [racist remarks] on social media. But to experience it first-hand, like I just felt disrespected.”
The incident occurred Saturday afternoon at the Robeks in Fairfield. Police said James Iannazzo, 48, of Fairfield, confronted employees, and yelled profanities at them after his son had a severe allergic reaction to a smoothie from there and had to be hospitalized. The dispute then escalated.
RELATED: Police: Fairfield man hurled smoothie and bigoted remarks at Robeks employees
“He threw the smoothie at me, and in my head I was just like, ‘Wow. Did you really just do that?’” said Miranda.
In the video, Iannazzo then made a racist remark to Miranda and tried to get into the employees only area.
“Me and my two coworkers had to like hold the door because he was pushing it open,” Miranda said.
Miranda said Iannazzo did order a smoothie without peanut butter but never mentioned a nut allergy.  
“Next to our register we have a thing that says to let us know if you have any allergies to nuts because we have special blenders and stuff we use for people who do have nut allergies,” she said. “I can't say it did or didn't have peanut butter in it…It could have been cross contaminated.”
The employees called police, but Iannazzo was gone when police arrived. He later turned himself in and has been charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace, and criminal trespass. He’s set to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Feb. 7. Iannazzo has also been fired from his job at Merrill Lynch as a result.
Iannazzo released the following statement:
“My actions at Robeks 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.  
I had returned to Robeks to determine what ingredients were in the smoothie that I had previously ordered. 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 Robeks, which contained some sort of nut product, after I had advised them of his nut allergy when I ordered his 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. I’d like to thank my wife and the first responders who I believe saved his life. This 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. 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.” 
His attorney, Frank Riccio, told News 12, that Iannazzo “wholeheartedly regrets the incident….When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo's parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear. He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress."

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