Alex Fregulia, 18, of Whispering Pine Drive, and Leonardo Silva, 20, of Briarview Lane in Palm Coast, each faces felony charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony, and battery on a person 65 or older, a third-degree felony, following an alleged assault on a 70-year-old man that may have been triggered by a road-rage incident Friday.
The alleged victim was heading to Golden Corral off Cypress Edge Drive with his 65-year-old wife for lunch early Sunday afternoon when, according to his account to deputies, a vehicle cut him off, forcing to slam on his brakes.
When he pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot near Golden Corral and got out of his vehicle with his wife, Alex Fregulia, 18, and Leonardo Silva, 20, rushed him and punched him, and one of them got a golf club “and struck him several times on the back and once on the head,” he told Flagler County sheriff’s deputies. He had the marks on his back , his right elbow and the side of his right knee to show the deputies, to whom he spoke as paramedics were tending to his injuries in an ambulance bay. Paramedics parted the hair on his neck to show an injury there, too.
The two younger men, the alleged victim said, were laughing the whole time, calling him an “old man.” When he attempted to get back in his truck, he said they pulled him out again, laughing, and continued to beat him before getting back in their car and driving to a different part of the parking lot.
The alleged victim’s wife corroborated the account, describing how Silva and Fregulia almost ran into her husband’s truck, rolled down their windows and made obscene gestures while yelling. They then pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot as her husband was exiting his truck. And as he told them that they needed to drive safely, they rushed him, knocked him to the ground and laughed as they beat him, she said, one of them using a golf club.
As Fregulia described it to deputies, the “old guy,” as he called the alleged victim, beeped his horn and followed him and Silva into the parking lot: it was the alleged victim, not them, who parked next to the younger men, Fregulia said, and the alleged victim who started the verbal altercation. Fregulia told deputies that the older man kicked him in the stomach and punched Silva in the face, “so I engaged the old guy,” Fregulia said. He said he was defending himself.
The two younger men then walked back to their car, alleging that the “old guy approached the car with a golf club and started poking me through the window with it,” Fregulia said. The alleged victim then broke the golf club, according to Fregulia, so he threw it at the two younger men, ran back to his car and told his wife to notify authorities and claim that the golf club belonged to Fregulia and Silva, not to him. (In fact, the golf club belonged to the younger men, a deputy noted.)
Fregulia declined medical attention. “It should be noted that there were no visible injuries observed” on him, a sheriff’s report states.
Silva told deputies that the alleged victim’s vehicle honked at theirs after they passed him, and when both pulled into the parking lot, an altercation started. The altercation became physical when, according to Silva, the alleged victim “got out of the car and confronted my friend Alex and tried kicking him. I told him to back up, then he came close and punched me in the face so I started hitting him back and Alex jumped in after he got hit in the face.”
The two younger men thought the confrontation was over, only to see the alleged victim come at them with the golf club. According to Silva, the alleged victim “shoved it in the passenger window where my friend was sitting more than once, repeatedly attacking him until he broke the club.” Silva says he then “got out of the car with the other half to scare him, but then he tried to attack me with the other side but missed, so I hit him back for self defense.”
Silva declined medical attention and declined to pursue charges, but said the alleged victim “would try to be petty” about the incident and “lie about this.” Silva also showed no visible injuries, a deputy reported.
A man independent of both parties witnessed part of the altercation, though not the way it started. He told a deputy that he saw the two younger men beat up the older man. Golden Corral did not have cameras pointed in the direction where the incident took place, and Lowe’s told investigators that its cameras don’t reach that far.
“My investigation revealed inconsistencies with [Silva’s] and [Fregulia]’s statements, specifically with their accounts of how the altercation ended,” a deputy reported. “It should be noted, that the injuries present on [the alleged victim] were significant enough for him to seek medical attention, and were consistent with defensive action and will possibly [result in] scarring.”
“I obtained the golf club used during the incident, which was determined to have belonged to Leonardo as it was retrieved from his vehicle,” the deputy reported.
A conviction of aggravated battery on a person 65 or older carries a maximum prison term of 30 years, and a minimum-mandatory prison sentence of three years and up to a $10,000 fine and up to 500 hours of community service. The battery on a person 65 or older is a third-degree felony. Bond was set at $2,500 for each of the two alleged attackers. Fregulia had posted bail by the time this story published. Silva had not. Their arraignment is set for March 30.