(Updated- 8:35 p.m.) Riverhead Police chased down and arrested a Coram man who violently beat an elderly customer having lunch outside a Calverton bagel shop this afternoon.

According to the owner of Bean and Bagel Cafe on Middle Country Road, the man, whom Riverhead Police identified as Philip Puglisi, 23, of Coram, got out of the taxi with luggage and as the cab pulled away, threw a plastic bottle at it.

Unprovoked, he then attacked a 69-year-old man who was seated at a nearby table eating a sandwich, according to Bean and Bagel owner Joanne Leibold. He dragged the man from his seat, across a table and into the adjacent parking lot where he beat him violently, she said. The attack was so violent and forceful it snapped a cement bench in two.

While an employee dialed 911, Leibold said she ran outside screaming at him to stop and telling him police had been summoned. The man, who was on top of the customer punching him, got up, took his suitcases and ran into the woods toward the nearby Timber Park neighborhood, she said.


Police arrived and took off after the man. They located him in a wooded area of Timber Park and placed him under arrest, Riverhead Police Sgt. Thomas Lessard said at the scene this afternoon. The victim did not know his attacker, Lessard said. No further details were immediately made available by police.

The customer was treated at the scene by Wading River Fire Department and transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of facial injuries, according to a police press release.

He’s a regular customer, Leibold said. “He’s a really nice man who always puts his change in one of the donation jars,” she said. Leibold keeps donation jars on the counter near the cash register to collect money for charitable groups and local residents in need of assistance.

“We are all just stunned,” Liebold said, surveying the blood-spattered parking lot. “This is a quiet neighborhood and a family place. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.”

Puglisi was charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony and was arraigned in Riverhead Justice Court where he was remanded to the Suffolk County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. By law, a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.