Orange County prosecutors declined to file any charges stemming from a fight involving a restaurant employee who initially claimed to be the victim but was found to have “escalated” an argument into a physical battle, police said Friday.The 33-year-old Thunder Burgrz Pizza employee, who suffered a significant head wound in the March 11 fist fight, has collected $17,705 of a $50,000 goal on a gofundme.com appeal for financial support.
Although police initially indicated the worker was a victim and arrested 21-year-old Bryce Anthony Mezich and 22-year-old Austin Wright Callan, both of Anaheim, the department posted a statement on its Facebook page Friday indicating the employee pushed an argument into a physical struggle.
Police were called to the restaurant at 126 Main St. just before 1 a.m. March 11 in response to a fight.
“Since the arrests, detectives conducted a thorough investigation, which included follow-up interviews, multiple sources of video evidence and independent witnesses who were contacted after the night of the incident,” according to police.
“Detectives discovered all three subjects involved in the incident actively engaged in the fight. They also determined the Thunder Burgrz Restaurant employee initially escalated the verbal confrontation by committing a battery on one of the subjects and invited him to fight in the alley. A third subject told detectives he became involved in the confrontation to defend his family member and prevent further assault by the restaurant employee.”
Police said they based their initial description of the altercation on reports from witnesses at the scene, but further investigation “contradicted the initial statements of others and resulted in no charges being filed on those arrested.”
Orange County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors reviewed the evidence and declined to press charges, police said.
Officer Jennifer Marlatt, the department’s public information officer, said she could not comment further.
The employee’s gofundme.com campaign page refers to him as Garret. One commenter wrote on the page Thursday that Garret was “alive and well walking around downtown Huntington Beach.”
The commenter claimed Garret threw a “full cup of water on a paying customer” and then called the other men out to fight in the alley. A message left with the sponsor of the gofundme page did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— City News Service
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