Two California men are accused of beating a restaurant manager into a coma because he wouldn’t give them free pizza.
Bryce Anthony Mezich, 21, and Austin Wright Callan, 22, of Anaheim, were arrested Saturday after attacking Garret Peterson, the 33-year-old manager of Thunder Burgrz & Pizza, in Huntington Beach, KTLA-TV reports.
Peterson remained hospitalized on Tuesday, his friends said.
One of the men caused a disturbance inside the restaurant about 1 a.m., and Peterson asked him to leave, the Orange County Register reports. Peterson then followed him outside, and a fight ensued, police said. The other man then got involved and police said Peterson was knocked unconscious by a punch.
“He refused to give them free pizza, they waited outside for him, pulled him in to an alley and almost beat him to death,” Peterson’s friend, Katelin Randall, said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Restaurant Manager Had Emergency Brain Surgery to Remove a Large Piece of His Skull & Suffered Bruising to His Brain
Garret Peterson remained hospitalized Tuesday at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach in a medically induced coma, the Orange County Register reports.
“He had emergency brain surgery at Hoag hospital with a large piece of his skull being removed and the rest of his brain severely bruised and damaged,” said his friend, Katelin Randall.
A security guard who works near the pizza place told CBS Los Angeles he saw Peterson on the ground and rushed to help him.
“When I got up there, I saw Garret was already laid out,” James Monin told the news station. “One of the guys that was involved was trying to walk away so I grabbed him.”
A friend who visited him in the hospital told the news station he has a long road to recovery.
“I went and saw him last night,” coworker Christine Roy told CBS Los Angeles. “I’ve never seen somebody like this.”
Randall said, “They try to wake Garret up and he can talk a little bit but he is very aggressive and they keep having to put him back under.”
2. Mezich Is Facing a Felony Assault Charge & Callan Was Booked on a Misdemeanor for Fighting
Bryce Mezich and Austin Callan were arrested not long after the fight near the scene, the Huntington Beach Police said.
Mezich was charged with assault with serious bodily injury, a felony, battery on a person and fighting in public, police said. He was released after posting bail.
Callan is facing a misdemeanor charge of fighting in public and battery, the Orange County Register reports. He was released without having to post bail.
Police are continuing to investigate and asked anyone with information to call 714-536-5951.
“The condition he is in, I think it should be attempted murder,” Garret Peterson’s friend, Juhl Floyd, told CBS Los Agneles.
3. Mezich Works for a Company That Installs Field Turf & Is Originally From Washington
Bryce Mezich is originally from Seattle, Washington, according to his Facebook page.
He works for a company that installs field turf for athletic fields. He lives in Anaheim, California.
“Lovin life always. Hows it up their in seattle??! Hahaha,” he wrote in a Facebook post on March 3, along with a photo showing him at the beach.
4. Callan Is Also Originally From Washington & Is a Former Cook
Austin Wright Callan is also originally from Washington, where he graduated from Bothell High School, according to his Facebook page.
He is a former cook at a restaurant in Seattle, he says on Facebook, and has also worked at a gym.
Callan also now lives in Anaheim, California.
5. Peterson’s Friends Have Set Up a GoFundMe Page to Help Pay for His Medical Bills
“We are still waiting to see if he will wake up, if he does, he faces months and possibly years of rehabilitation, psych. counseling, and medical bills,” along with living expenses, his friend, Katelin Randall, wrote on the page.
“He will probably want to blow it all buying his dog Rosie a new mansion dog house,” Randall wrote. “But my guess would be living expenses and paying off any bills he incurs at this time.”
Randall said Peterson grew up in the Newport, California, area and has lived in Huntington Beach for about 10 years.
“Garret is the type of person who is happy all the time. He draws people in and makes friends with everyone. He never has a negative thing to say about anyone and is basically a giant teddy bear. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone speak negatively of Garret either. He is the definition of a ladies man and a gentleman,” Randall said. “I have known Garret for the last 7 years and I have watched him grow in to an amazing man. Not perfect by any means but he is always there to help when someone needs it. He is strong and independent and kind.”