SULPHUR SPRINGS — A daylong downpour Thursday halted business at a start-up furniture store, and having his hours reduced may have pushed one employee over the edge.
Tampa police say Larry Dale Hummel Jr. of 8505 N Mitchell Ave. lured a manager into the store after hours and tried to beat him with a baseball bat.
None of his swings connected, said Henry Ocasio, the other manager of Family Mattress and Furniture at 8518 N Nebraska Ave. But the attack was just an end to a day of confrontations with the man whom the store's former owner had recommended as a "really good worker," Ocasio said.
Earlier in the day, Ocasio said, he had told Hummel that he had no use for him because people don't buy furniture or request deliveries in the rain.
But Hummel, 43, was paid on a day-to-day basis. Ocasio said the 6-foot-3 man was irate when he was told he wouldn't be paid.
So the store's other manager offered a compromise: He'd let him work half a day. But Hummel demanded the money up front for beer, Ocasio said.
"There were no deliveries. We didn't sell anything. So we didn't have it," he said.
That's when Hummel quit and walked to his home, which is half a block away, right behind the store.
Ocasio said that on Thursday night, Hummel called him three times while Ocasio was making deliveries, telling him that something was going on at the store and that the back door was open.
Ocasio feared a break-in, but then thought better of it. The only people with keys were him, the store's owner and Hummel. Just in case, he said, he sent his co-manager to check on the store.
As Ocasio's partner walked through the store toward the open back door, police say, Hummel jumped out and started swinging a baseball bat at him.
"The guy is small, but he's quick, so Larry missed and chased him out the door," Ocasio said. "That's when everybody called 911, saying, 'Larry's crazy! Larry's crazy!' "
Police arrived and charged Hummel with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
He was being held in the Orient Road Jail on Friday night with bail set at $2,000. Records listed his occupation as "unemployed."
Hummel was already serving one year of probation for a Jan. 29 domestic violence battery conviction. On that occasion, Hummel beat his wife behind the store as frantic employees called for help, Ocasio said.
Neighbor Jerome Washington said he has never seen any violent flashes from Hummel.
"He usually just spoke to us and then went on his way," Washington said. "If you had a question, he would do his best to answer it, but he never hung around outside and talked to anyone."
In their arrest report, Tampa police describe Hummel as a "disgruntled employee" who had just been ''terminated."
Ocasio says Hummel may have been angry, but he hadn't been fired.
"Even when we talked on the phone (before the attack), I asked him about coming in to work the next day," he said. "I don't know why he did this."
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3373.