Garret Peterson, 33, of Huntington Beach, California, was allegedly attacked by two men March 11 after he refused to give them free pizza.
Bryce Anthony Mezich, 21, and Austin Wright Callan, 22, were interviewed at the scene and booked after witnesses described their involvement, reports KTLA. The two men have since been charged with felony assault with serious bodily injury, reports OC Weekly.
According to witness reports, the two men were involved in a verbal altercation with Peterson, who denied them free pizza. The two men then allegedly waited for Peterson to finish his shift at the restaurant before pulling him into an alleyway and attacking him. Police could not confirm how the fight started.
Peterson is a manager at Thunder Burgrz & Pizza in Huntington Beach, a family-owned restaurant that opened in 2015.
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Peterson's condition is not immediately known, but a friend of Peterson's told KTLA that Peterson had been placed in a medically induced coma. He had a severe head injury after the attack and was also left unconscious. Police rushed to the scene at around 1 a.m. on March 11.
A nearby security guard witnessed the attack and immediately assisted Peterson, the OC Weekly reports. He also grabbed one of the attackers and held him until police arrived.
“Garret’s just kind of that downtown Huntington Beach staple," a friend told KTLA. "He’s always down here, he’s always cheery, running around, saying 'hi' to everybody. High energy, super nice guy."
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"The fact that these guys did this, utter disrespect. I’m just glad we got them."
Peterson was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery after the attack, reports the Daily Mail. He had severe brain bruising and a large piece of his skull needed to be removed.
A GoFundMe page has been set up on his behalf to help pay for the medical costs. The crowdfunding effort had collected more than $10,000 in donations by March 14. The page hopes to raise $250,000.
"Garret has been working downtown for the last two years," friend Katelin Randall wrote on the GoFundMe page. "He was assaulted at his job multiple times, however, this is unfortunately the worst time. I live with Garret so I have personally seen the aftermath."
"He is the type of person who is happy all the time. He draws people in and makes friends with everyone," she added. "He never has a negative thing to say about anyone and is basically a giant teddy bear."