Man Accused of Punching Boston Library Employee, Spraying Him With Unknown Chemical

The suspect allegedly approached the victim outside the library, hit him in the face and sprayed an unknown chemical in his face

A man accused of punching a Boston Public Library employee and spraying him with an unknown chemical outside the building was arrested Wednesday night.

Officers received a call of a fight outside the library in Copley Square shortly before 9 p.m., according to police. At the scene, officers spoke with the employee, who said he was working in the library’s computer area when a man "became irate without cause" and began to yell at him. The victim told police that he asked the man to leave.

The alleged assailant was later identified as 49-year-old William Zaniboni of Boston. Zaniboni says he asked for the employee's help with logging onto the computers.

"He said, 'Computers are over there, white boy. You figure it out yourself.' And I was just so shocked and I said, 'You can't talk to me like that.' And he slapped my arm down," Zaniboni said.

After kicking him out for being disruptive, Zaniboni says the employee went outside and started the fight.

But witnesses told police a much different story. They say Zaniboni was so angry he waited for the employee to get out of work. He allegedly approached the victim, saying, "What do you think? I won't hit you." He then allegedly slapped the victim in the face. The victim told police he fought back in self-defense before the suspect sprayed him in the face with an unknown chemical.

Outside court Thursday, Zaniboni told NBC10 Boston that while he does have a lengthy criminal record he plans to fight this latest charge.

"I'm really not sorry for what happened," Zaniboni said. "I got pepper sprayed and attacked and then arrested for it."

The employee told police Zaniboni walked toward Exeter Street and later returned to the scene. After being positively identified, Zaniboni was arrested on two charges of assault and battery.

Officers searched the area for a spray bottle that could have been used in the attack, but did not find one.

Zaniboni was released on personal recognizance bail following his arraignment Thursday. The judge ordered him to stay away from the library.

Officials with Boston Public Library released a statement Thursday saying they couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation but that they were "fully cooperating with the Boston Police Department."

Zaniboni is due back in court Sept. 17.

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