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Angry man slams soup, mauls mayo

(ran PW edition of PT)

A 64-year-old man with a grievance against Food Lion walked into the supermarket Thursday and wreaked havoc with a baseball bat.

Frank Caligiuri started with the peanuts in the produce section and did more than $250 in damage before sheriff's deputies arrived and told him to put down the aluminum bat, authorities said.

Caligiuri did particular damage to mayonnaise jars.

"I had just been so aggravated over the whole thing," he told the Times on Friday.

"It just kept boiling up and boiling up and boiling up," he said.

Caligiuri said he injured his back in October when he slipped on a wet floor at the Food Lion at Northcliffe Boulevard and U.S. 19. Since then, he has been trying to get the company to pay for $1,200 in medical bills, he said.

He wrote letters. He made phone calls. He explained he was on a fixed income. The company investigated the claim and decided it was without merit.

A company spokesman said Friday that the floor was not wet where Caligiuri slipped and that his slick-soled shoes were probably part of the problem.

"After investigating the accident, our folks said all precautions had been taken on our part and that the company really had no liability in this case," said spokesman Mike Mozingo at Food Lion headquarters in Salisbury, N.C.

Mozingo said it was the first time he could think of that a customer had attacked food with a bat.

"It looks like the victim in this case was the mayonnaise," he said.

Despite the company's position, Caligiuri insists the store was at fault for his October fall. He went to HCA/Oak Hill Hospital that day and has visited chiropractors since then. The pain became so bad and the unpaid bills so aggravating that Caligiuri decided to take matters into his own hands Thursday.

He walked into the store between 7 and 8 p.m. According to a sheriff's report on the incident, bag boy Richard Koch saw the bat and asked, "Hey, man, what are you doing with that bat?"

Caligiuri said he would show Koch.

He also explained to employees and customers that he was not there to hurt anyone. "I said, "Look, I ain't got nothing against you. They don't want to pay my bills.' And I went with the baseball bat," he told the Times. According to the Sheriff's Office, he also said he planned to break $1,200 worth of merchandise.

Bags of peanuts were first, then items along Aisle 3 and Aisle 6.

Among the casualties: $5.50 in sugar bags; 14 bottles of Pantene shampoo, valued at $41.86; 28 cans of Campbell's soup; 24 bottles of mayonnaise, worth $35.76; and a staggering 252 candy bars.

Caligiuri said he did most damage near the front of the store because he wanted other customers to see.

Then deputies showed up. They told him to drop the bat. He did. He ended up thanking them for being courteous in their handling of the incident. "You couldn't ask for a better bunch of guys," he said Friday. However, he was concerned about where his bat would end up. "I told 'em I want it back," said the semi-retired concrete finisher.

A trespass warning was issued against Caligiuri. The store also can press charges for the damage to the stock. Mozingo, the Food Lion spokesman, said a decision hadn't been made as of Friday.

The spokesman said he wished Caligiuri had sued the store instead of taking batting practice.

Caligiuri, of 3385 Harrow Road, Spring Hill, was unrepentant. The outburst made him feel better because it relieved some pressure, he said, but he was still somewhat annoyed.

After the outburst he was told by a manager not to come back to that particular Food Lion.

"I said, "What in the hell makes you think I'd ever want to come back to your store again?! I haven't been in here since I fell,' " Caligiuri said Friday.