Dominic Vidal was at an upstate New York Dunkin' Donuts on Jan. 4 when his daughter reportedly asked a wheelchair-bound veteran if she could pet the man's service dog.
When the veteran told her she could not, Vidal allegedly became enraged and punched the disabled veteran in the face, Syracuse.com reported.
Police turned to the public for help identifying Vidal after the Syracuse man fled the scene. Thanks to several clear, full-color images from the store's security cameras -- which police distributed to local newspapers and TV stations -- several people came forward and identified Vidal as the suspect, including two of his co-workers, according to WSTM.
On Jan. 6 at 6 p.m., after seeing his face on TV and realizing people had tipped the cops off to his identity, Vidal turned himself in at police headquarters, saying he was there "to claim responsibility for his actions."
Vidal, who reportedly admitted punching the veteran, told police he overreacted and "should not have done what he did," WSTM reported.
The veteran was treated at the scene by paramedics and wasn't seriously injured.
Typically, owners of service dogs request people not pet the animals because it could lead to an injury, according to Anything Pawsable, a website that provides information and news about service dogs.
The site explains some of the reasons not to pet a service dog include that visually impaired people who use service dogs could be injured if the dog is distracted, while those who use the animals to assist them with mobility could be pulled out of their wheelchairs if the dog is compelled to move toward another person.
"A Service Dog darting forward because someone is deliberately waving a slice of pizza in his face could easily cause the chair to flip or yank the handler from the chair, leaving the wheelchair user broken and bleeding," the site explains.
Vidal, 21, was charged with third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, both of which are misdemeanors. He's due in court on Jan. 12.