NAPLES, Fla.- Collier County Sheriff's deputies arrested Richard Rice, 72, Thursday after he allegedly flipped a man over in his wheelchair over a fireworks dispute.
Rice was charged with one count of abuse of the disabled without great harm after multiple witnesses said Rice threw the victim to the ground just before 9:45 p.m.
According to the victim, who is confined to a wheelchair, he and his family were standing in their driveway as children played with fireworks in the street. Rice allegedly walked from his home, carrying a clear, plastic bottle labeled "gas," and proceeded to threatened the children and adults with the gasoline. He told them he would pour gasoline on the driveway, so that if they lit anymore fireworks, they would catch on fire. Rice then reportedly said, "The party's over," and poured gasoline in the roadway, near the children, who were holding sparklers at the time. The adults began to yell for the children to get away from the gas.
When the adults approached Rice, asking why he was doing this, he allegedly grabbed the victim's wheelchair with both hands and flipped him over. The victim was ejected, and sustained cuts, scratches and road rash. Gasoline had spilled out of the container Rice was holding and onto the victim in the process. The adults yelled that they were calling 911, and Rice fled into his home.
Deputies say Rice was unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol when they met with him shortly after the incident. He told them the fireworks were disturbing his dogs. After waiting two hours, Rice said he walked outside with the gasoline, as a warning. He claimed the victim was verbally abusive and yelled profanities at him before running into him with his wheelchair.
Rice had not called CCSO to complain about the fireworks, before taking matters into his own hands, and admitted to knowing the victim was disabled.
The victim expressed wishes to press charges against Rice. Deputies then arrested Rice and transported him to the Naples Jail.