DOCUMENT: Stupid, Crime

Cashier Choked Over Way He Bagged Groceries

Cops: Attacker thought his chips got crushed

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Snack Chip Rage

APRIL 1--Unhappy with the way his groceries were being packed, a Pennsylvania man allegedly choked a supermarket cashier whom the assailant accused of being careless with several bags of snack chips, according to court records.

Bradley Bower, 55, is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday on a criminal complaint charging him with simple assault, a misdemeanor, in connection with the February 2 incident at a Giant Food Store near his home in New Cumberland, a Harrisburg suburb.

According to police, Bower and his wife were shopping at the supermarket the night before Super Bowl Sunday. When they reached the checkout line, Giant employee Neil Lerch Jr. began bagging their purchases.

But Bower, seen at right, was not happy with the way Lerch did his job, and asked the cashier to “not throw his groceries around.” Bower would later tell police that he purchased “several bags of chips and that he didn't want them to get all smashed up.” Bower, cops say, added that “the cashier put the bags of chips in with can goods and he was smashing the chips.”

Upon paying for his groceries, Bower asked Lerch if he had a problem with him, according to the complaint. Lerch told police that Bower said, “Do you have a problem with me? Because I have a problem with you.” Thinking that Bower was joking with him, Lerch said he replied, “Do you?”

Police allege that Bower subsequently wrapped a hand around Lerch’s throat and pushed him against a cash register. While doing this, Lerch said, Bower said to him, “You idiot!”

Cops responding to a 911 call noted that the cashier had a “dark red area” on his neck and throat that appeared “as if it was turning to bruising.” Lerch, cops added, said that the pressure applied to his throat “was not enough to make him pass out.”

During questioning, Bower reportedly admitted grabbing Lerch around the throat and “stated that he knew he was in the wrong.” The 6’, 250-pound Bower told officers that he was having a bad day and “this issue with the chips just sent him over the edge.”

The confrontation, investigators noted, “was caught on the store video system,” which recorded Bower “grab/strike Lerch in the throat area and pushed him up against the register.” (2 pages)