LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is trying to identify a man who was caught on surveillance video attacking another customer at a liquor store in Lakeland.
The alleged attack happened at the Publix Liquor store on Highway 540A East around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
According to deputies, the attack stemmed from the suspect getting upset that the victim didn’t thank him for holding the door open. The victim, who is seen in video released by the sheriff’s office wearing a tan-colored hat, told deputies he walked into the liquor store while the suspect held the door open.
The suspect, who is seen wearing a black and gray shirt and a black hat, then reportedly asked, “you don’t say ‘thank you’ to people who hold the door open for you?” The victim said he responded, saying “thank you.”
“But apparently that wasn’t enough,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Because our now suspect, who was originally a gentleman, started jawing back and forth. That’s a southern vernacular for talking back to each other.”
The two men are seen in the video walking to different parts of the liquor store after the initial confrontation. But deputies say the victim claims the suspect then continued to “express his anger” from another aisle.
According to the victim, the suspect told him, “I’ll kick your [butt] if you say another word.” The victim told deputies he replied by saying, “another word.”
That’s when deputies say the suspect quickly approached the victim and started attacking.
“The previous southern gentleman who held the door open who’s now the suspect promptly was good for his word,” Sheriff Judd said. “Because he walked around the aisle and started beating him up.”
The surveillance video shows the suspect repeatedly hit the victim, knocking the man’s hat off.
A third man, who was in the store with the suspect, was eventually able to pull the suspect away from the victim.
The video shows the victim and the suspect giving each other the middle finger as the suspect leaves the store.
“Come on man, what are you thinking?” Sheriff Judd said. “Were your three brain cells in overload? Why don’t you just let it go? Get you a bottle of liquor, go back to the house, have you a drink. But no, they had to have a kerfuffle right there in the middle of the store.”
Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call Detective Ervin with the sheriff’s office at (863) 499-2400. You can also submit an anonymous tip to Heartland Crime Stoppers.
“We have a battery complaint we need to file against him and we don’t want him to miss out on that,” Judd said. “Here’s our promise: We’ll open the door for you at the county jail and say thank you if you open the door first.”
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