Florida man, 75, punched in the chest over social distancing request at Publix, police say
An elderly man who recently had heart surgery was attacked in a Publix parking lot in Daytona Beach Shores on Sunday after asking a woman in the grocery store to maintain social distance from him because of coronavirus concerns, police said.
Police are looking for the suspect who hit and threatened to kill him, said Daytona Beach Shores police Capt. Mike Fowler.
The incident occurred around 5:37 p.m., investigators said.
The 75-year-old victim was in line at the Publix Super Market at 3044 S.South Atlantic Avenue and was checking out, Fowler said.
A woman cut in close behind him, and, concerned about social distancing because of his recent heart surgery, the victim asked the woman to follow the markings on the floor that indicated how far away she needed to be, a report shows.
Fowler said there was a younger man with the woman, but he was in a different line inside the store at the time.
Video surveillance in the store showed the woman, who appeared to be 50 to 55 years old, meet the man and exited the store together, police said.
The 75-year-old man had also left the store and was putting his groceries in his vehicle when a vehicle drove up to him and stopped. The younger man got out and hit the elderly man, Fowler said.
"He punches him and he falls to the ground and hits his head," Fowler said.
The victim reported that the attacker called him a "(expletive) gator redneck" and accused him of holding up the line while checking out at the store, police said.
The man then punches the elderly man in the chest and when the victim fell to the ground, he stood over him and threatened to kill him, police said.
"One word and I'll kill you,' the victim said the attacker told him, according to a police report.
Police are looking for the attacker, who left the scene in a late-model Cadillac. As it was driving away, the victim saw the woman he had confronted in the store in the passenger's seat, police said.