Burlingame man to go to trial in Drano attack on supermarket manager

A Burlingame man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court to charges stemming from an October incident where he allegedly threw Drano in a Burlingame supermarket manager’s eyes and stabbed the man with a fork.

Thomas Waddell, 46, appeared briefly at his superior court arraignment Tuesday morning. His jury trial was scheduled to begin May 21.

During his preliminary hearing Dec. 20 Judge Richard Livermore found that there was enough evidence to try Waddell for felony assault.

According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, Waddell confronted the manager inside a Safeway on Howard Avenue about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Waddell, with the Drano in his hand and metal fork taped to the middle finger of his other hand, reportedly asked the manager to borrow his cell phone but was rebuffed, according to Wagstaffe.

Waddell then allegedly left the store with a bottle of salad dressing, returned, and opened and drank a soda.

The manager told Waddell that he had to pay for the soda, at which point Waddell is alleged to have thrown Drano into the manager’s eyes and stabbed him six times with the fork.

Employees came to the manager’s aid, according to Wagstaffe.

“The manager had some puncture wounds, but nothing that required sutures,” Wagstaffe said.

Waddell is being charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon, throwing a flammable substance with intent to disfigure or burn, and petty theft. He remains in custody on $300,000 bail.

According to Wagstaffe, Waddell was on parole in Burlingame after serving two years in prison for attacking his former San Bruno neighbor with gasoline in 2004.

In that case, Waddell had “irrational suspicions that his next-door neighbor was molesting his children,” and poured gasoline all over him, according to Wagstaffe. “The suspect’s wife said she had no idea why he had this belief,” he added. Waddell was convicted of felony assault.

Waddell is facing 20 years to life if he is convicted of the most recent assault, Wagstaffe said. He has two prior felony assault charges, for which he spent time in prison, and therefore is eligible for the habitual offender statute.

— Bay City News

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