Man, 51, dies after knock-out punch at Miller's Ale House

Suspect says he intervened during argument

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A man who was punched unconscious at a Miller's Ale House restaurant earlier this week died Wednesday after being taken off life support, according to his wife.

Deputies said 28-year-old Benjamin Hernandez Jr., of Sebring, heard 51-year-old Srikanth "Shrik" Srinivasan and his wife arguing Tuesday night at the patio bar of the Miller's Ale House on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and confronted the man about how he was acting toward his wife.

When the man said something to Hernandez, Hernandez punched him in the face, knocking him down and causing him to hit his head on the floor, the man's wife told deputies.

Witnesses said Hernandez then tried to leave the restaurant, but the man's wife screamed for someone to stop him while she waited with her husband, according to the report. Hernandez then returned to his seat and waited for deputies to arrive.

When deputies arrived at the restaurant, they asked Hernandez what happened. According to the report, Hernandez said he was having a few drinks at the bar when he noticed Srikanth Srinivasan and his wife arguing and approached them in an effort to deescalate the situation.

"It was just a little stupid argument, there was no yelling going on," the victim's wife Barbara Srinivasan told News 6.

Barbara Srinivasan, 35, said she never asked Hernandez to step in and her husband was not abusive. She said they were arguing but she was not scared of her husband.

"This guy just started yelling across the bar at him and immediately stood up came up to him and started to call him the N-word and other profanity," Barbara Srinivasan said. "My husband did not yell back once." 

Hernandez told deputies he's seen a lot of abuse in his family and did not want to see another man hurt a woman, the report said. A witness said they heard Hernandez say, "I'm not going to watch someone get abused."

Barbara Srinivasan said her husband was trying to keep the peace and wasn't engaging with the suspect other than asking him to stop calling him racist names.

"All of a sudden out of nowhere was the loudest-sounding punch I have ever heard in my life," she said.

After being hit, the man was airlifted to Osceola Regional Medical Center in critical condition, according to the report. A doctor said the man would not undergo surgery and declared him "clinically brain dead."

On Wednesday, Srikanth Srinivasan was taken off life support and died at 8:30 p.m., according to Barbara Srinivasan.

Hernandez was arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's Office officials said homicide detectives have now taken over the investigation.

Barbara Srinivasan said her husband was "a beautiful person" and the "best husband."

The victim did not have health or life insurance. A family friend started a GoFundMe to help with the medical expenses.

"He was there for me every moment I needed him," Barbara Srinivasan said of her late husband. "Now I don't know what I'm going to do without him. This was senseless and I'm angry and upset and that man needs to go away forever."

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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