POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – “I didn’t expect him to actually do it, I thought it was an empty threat.”
The victim in a liquor store attack tells 8 On Your Side he thinks about what happened in a Lakeland Publix store every time he walks through a door.
“I have to shake my head a little bit about it. Of course it’s on the back of my mind,” he said.
The man did not want to have his name published but did want to tell his story.
He said he was distracted when he entered the Publix Liquor Store in the Highlands area of Lakeland Saturday just after noon.
“The two fellas in front of me, I guess opened the door for me, I wasn’t even really paying attention,” he said.
The men were not happy with the snub.
“They said, ‘Just shut up. Quit talking to us.’ And I said, ‘what? I’m trying to say thank you.’ And they said, ‘You say another word, I’m gonna come over there and hit you.’ And I looked at them and I laughed and I said, ‘another word’,” he recalled.
The suspect, now wanted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, is seen on Publix security video turning the corner and attacking him in the aisle.
“I was freaking out because of all the glass and all the bottles and everything,” said the victim. “You’re on camera, man. What is wrong with you?”
He had lumps on the back of his head from the punches, he told 8 On Your Side.
“I was really shocked. It blew my mind that the guy actually came around and took swings at me,” he said.
“Why don’t you just let it go? Get ya a bottle of liquor, go back to the house, have you a drink, but no, they’ve got to have a kerfuffle right there in the middle of the store,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the battery and is looking for information about the suspect.
“Here’s our promise. We’ll open the door for you at the county jail,” said Sheriff Judd.
The victim said he usually makes a point to say “thank you” when someone holds the door for him.
And when someone doesn’t thank him when he holds the door? He’s also held the door open for people who didn’t say thank you.
“I don’t beat them up over it. I don’t cause a fight over it. I don’t even care. I shrug it off,” he said.
If you recognize the suspect, please contact Detective Ervin at 863-499-2400 (reference case #20-19193). To remain anonymous, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers – call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), visit www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip,” or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.