SLO firefighter assault sparked by affair allegations

June 10, 2011

John Ryan Mason


A local firefighter allegedly beat a man unconscious in a bathroom at Pappy McGregor’s in San Luis Obispo on Saturday after an eight-month rift stemming from claims the firefighter was having an affair with another firefighter’s wife.

The incident has sparked public concern because San Luis Obispo police waited five days to arrest the suspect

John Ryan Mason, 34, a 6-foot-3-inch tall buff firefighter, allegedly followed Jory Brigham, 32, into the bathroom and beat him about the head causing significant facial injuries. As a result, Brigham, a local furniture designer, is scheduled to have a metal plate surgically placed into his head and his jaw wired shut on Friday.

Mason and Brigham’s wives are good friends. About eight months ago, following allegations that Mason was planning to leave his wife for another firefighter’s wife, Brigham publicly voiced his view on extramarital affairs.

Brigham posted on a Facebook page that it is not acceptable for a husband to walk out on his wife. Mason allegedly fired back using his wife’s account in an alleged post that has since been deleted.

While Brigham was pummeled to unconsciousness, Mason–the only suspect, was not arrested until Thursday when he was booked on three felony counts.

The delay has given rise to speculations that Mason was afforded special treatment by his public safety brethren. It comes at a very sensitive time given local police and firefighters have joined forces campaigning to convince San Luis voters to maintain binding arbitration by turning down an August ballot measure.

Mason was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of assault with great bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury, and inflicting great bodily injury while committing a felony. His bail was set at $50,000.

Update: Mason was bailed out of jail and returned to work at the San Luis Obispo Fire Department. He has been placed on desk duty while the city performs an investigation.

Jory Brigham Facebook photo


False or incorrect info here in this article which is misleading…

I know Ryan and I work with him – he is not even 6 feet tall, I’d estimate he weighs no more than 175 lbs if that and he has not slept with any fellow firefighters’ wives. The incorrect facts presented (and repeated as gospel by several people who believe everything the read) simply help to make the story lean more towards making seem him guilty than giving the guy a fair trial and then passing judgement. Everyone of us should be considered innocent until proven guilty and I bleieve we’d all expect that should we find ourselves accused of something.


So you’re saying Ryan had no reason to assault the other guy? Or it just “happened” and he (or both) completely lost it in the men’s room without any outside provocations?


Why does this guy think that beating the crap out of someone is okay? He couldn’t just punch him in the stomach or ribs a few times, he had to beat on his head?

I don’t know what’s going on between these two, but I don’t like the choice this guy is taking. And this isn’t the first time? Looks bad to me. I’m glad he isn’t my neighbor.


I agree (as I think many here do) that yes innocent till proven guilty. Fine but that said the other crux of the article is, is that he has been accused of a potentially SERIOUS crime and it took FOUR days to arrest and process him. Do you have any response to that??? That smacks of HUGE favoritism if you ask me.

Do you think if any of the posters here (if not in law enforcement or fire) would be given the same golden treatment if they were accused of the same kind of violent crime? I mean come on a simple fist fight, then o.k. take a couple days but if a man is put in the hospital and needs MAJOR surgery because of his injuries, WHY does it take four days to complete an arrest, that usually would have been done within hours??


You think that you know all about Ryan’s personal life becasue you work with him? He is having an affair and he was angry that Brigham took the side of Ryan’s wife.


I’m starting to wonder if firefighters seducing other firefighters’ wives is a daily, ho-hum occurrence. You would think the other firefighters would be glad to see Mason get caught and prosecuted fro SOMETHING. I’ve never experienced a group of husbands being so “whatever” about a coworker seducing their wives, and so supporting when the d-bag commits a violent assault on a man who simply voiced his opinion of it.

Maybe that’s it–do you think the complacent firefighters are afraid to speak out against Mason for fear he will maniacally assault them like he did Brigham?


If the information is misleading, why was he arrested and charged with a crime? Ok so maybe his size and weight is misleading although I think everything else must have some credibility. Regardless of what the accusations were his actions were beyond out of line wouldnt you agree? Or is that normal protocol? Accept he made some really poor decisions and has to face the consequnces of those decisions. I am sure he is a nice guy although I am sure alcohol was a factor in this incident which obviously didnt help things.


Anybody else notice the convenience of the 5-day lapse between assault and arrest?

It would give the body plenty of time to get rid of many drugs. Probably not steroids, but I don’t know if they test for steroids with violent assaults.


firnatine your attempt to do damage control for the fire department is frutile. Your co-worker screwed up. I think I would take the approach of please dont characterize the department and personnel by one individuals acts. Sadly he is giving your organization a beating to, in the public eye.


Speaking of “incorrect facts”, I don’t even know Ryan and definitely don’t work along side him. But, our town is so small that I have seen him numerous times and if you are claiming that he is “not even 6 feet tall”, when he is obviously well over 6 foot (take it from a short person, we notice that stuff) I’d really have to question your judgement. Sounds to me like you may be presenting incorrect facts simply to make the story lean towards making him seem innocent? I would caution CCN viewers to not “believe everything they read”, if what they are reading is your comment.


His true height and weight should be a matter of record. Anybody know what it really is? So were the Police trying to determine if he was guilty or innocent before he was arrested? I thought that was for the Courts to decide. Did the accusing party wait 5 days before pressing charges? No matter how it is spun, it smells like favoritism.


Yeah, I’m accused of burning the biscuits last night, not of beating an unconscious man to the point he had to have a metal plate put in his face.

Give me a break.


FYI, folks, look up “firnatine.”

“Irish firefighter’s organization based around 808 Bellevue Ave in Syracuse, NY. Members carry Sharpie markers and oval stickers to mark their territory.”


I was surprised to hear the very gracious statement from Mr. Brigham on tonight’s news. He’s a bigger many than me.


A lot of good points made here so no reason to rehash same o same o.

I just have this observation. I have said (as well as others) that on the opposite side of the badge (police) we need to consider a police commission. Now with this do we need to consider a fire commission? Or better yet with a lot of the special treatment that has gone on here in the county on both sides, maybe is it time to have the County Grand Jury weigh in on this?? Hopefully someone from the Grand Jury might read this and consider? Lets hope.


He didn’t hit Travis Mello over the head with a champagne bottle. Again, heresay.


Was it a Merlot or Chardonnay bottle?


Maybe it was sodie-pop…..a BIG bottle of sodie-pop.


At his compensation level prolly a bottle of Pellegrino…


Karen’s interview this evening was really great. This story is just going to get bigger and bigger.

It’s the waiting five days before the police arrested him that is going to be the bad part for the local police and firefighters.

I mean, it makes me wonder what else our local police/fire personnel have gotten away with over the yaers?


Please. A lot of Karen’s interview was based on “heresay”. Also, why hasn’t she just asked the cops why they didn’t arrest Mason right away?


If you believe a reporter documenting statements from witnesses as “heresay,” and somehow unimportant or not credible, then there is little in the newspaper you can believe.

Have you ever posted on another forum accusing another reporter of basing their story on heresay?


Why didnt she ask the cops? Get real they are conducting an investigation into a felony assault! I am sure they would love to share there findings with the media and screw up the investigation. Maybe they didnt arrest him right away because he didnt stick around to confess his crime to them. Maybe there was special treatment because he is a SLO City firefighter. I guess we can speculate the answer for days. I am sure the reason will eventually be unveiled.


ITA, I totally agree


This guy makes so much money he thinks he can go around beating people up.


Imagine this:

Circa 1951: a firefighter goes into a local bar and discovers a person inside that has been claiming that the firefighter has been messing around with his wife. The firefighter calls him out on it and the two go outside to settle their differences. The bar empties behind them to watch the fight. The firefighter gets the upper hand in the fight and the crowd pulls him off of the other man. The defeated man picks himself up and goes home. The firefighter goes into the bar and has a cold beer. Difference settled, everyone moves on.

Circa 2011: Everyone is scared of getting a felony assault charge for a simple fist fight outside of a bar, so the firefighter follows the other man into the bathroom to settle their differences. No room for the crowd to control the situation, so an adrenaline filled firefighter loses control and goes to far.

I am actually surprised that neither party resorted to using some type of weapon.The simple truth is that our society was a whole lot better off 60 years ago when men could settle their differences in an honorable way without fear of the police getting involved or having a lawsuit slapped on them. Honor and respect have all but disappeared in our current society. The firefighter made a very bad choice in following the fellow into the bathroom. He made a very bad choice in taking the attitude adjustment too far by breaking bones. I make no excuses for him, but I do understand that he is a product of the environment that society has created.

You know what? All of those school yard scraps that I got in taught me that running my mouth could get me in serious and immediate trouble. I can’t imagine what kind of jackwagon I would have grown up as without being on the receiving end of a few attitude adjustments. Think about that the next time you see some crazy ‘zero tolerance’ policy. This is the end story to that policy.


Well, I agree to some extent, but I’m not interested in having to avoid fisticuffs as I walk down the street. I grew up very close to Watts, in an area where there were lots of fights, and I have had my fill of being in fights myself. There has to be some solution that doesn’t involve allowing people to settle differences physically, out on the street where other people can contribute.

But I was thinking the other day, when listening to a discussion about bullying at schools, why aren’t other kids stepping in and stopping it? When I was in school, I was usually one of the first ones–always had that rescuer complex thing–to stand up for the one being bullied.

Someone said the kids are probably taught by parents and teachers NOT to step in and stop bullying.

Does anyone have experience with this? Is this true?


I see your point although beating another human being senslessly until they are unconscius I think is a little different then what you are describing as when you were younger. Are society as a whole has changed and is more aggressive than ever. Furthermore this individual is a firefighter/ paramedic. Doesnt he respond to such type calls and see first hand the impact it has on the individual there families etc. Isnt his career/job to help others not beat them senselessly. I am sorry although it sounds like the things John is doing on his days off are inappropriate to say the least. While I dont know how true it is, he did commit a violent crime. I finding it very disturbing that he was arrested five days later. That is something I think needs to be investigated as well.


A fight in a restroom almost always involves the sink or other hard surface. It’s just too easy to use them as a weapon, unfortunately. All it takes is one good grab-and-throw from behind to get one’s opponent off balance, and either repeat the face-smashing (another important aspect of waiting to arrest the fireman – were his knuckles bloodied up significant to the damage done? If not, then assault charges could change).

It’s all heresy, as was pointed out, but I am not confident in the Police Department’s ability to fairly investigate this. I would request State or Federal investigators to come in.


I don’t have any confidence in the SLOPD either with regard to this case. Five days says it all…


Didn’t they say a champagne bottle was used?

What gives me the creeps is thinking how many toxic organisms from the mens-room floor were able to enter the wounds. If he, indeed, has a fractured skull, those organisms had access to the brain.


No wonder Parkinson won’t give you a permit to carry a concealed weapon. If you mean what you say in your posting then you’re precisely the sort of person that he should forever be denied.

Have you actually ever been in a bar fight, tough-guy? I have and the only place “simple fist fight outside of a bar” exist are in the movies. People have the ability to do a great deal of damage to others with their fists, elbows, foreheads and legs.

Why did you bring up the use of weapons? Because it fits your fantasy of being a gun-toting tough guy? In your fantasy world the guy that got beat-up would have pulled his firearm at some point. So in addition the the horrible beating, one of both of the individuals would have been shot and possibly killed? How absolutely tragic.

That firefighter did far more than make a “very bad choice.” He acted in a manner that’s unacceptable in our society — something he should well know at age 34. In other words he committed a felony. Dig into his past. Given his size and his inability to control himself I suspect this is not his first “very bad choice.” He sounds like a bully. People like him need to be off the streets.

Your final paragraph makes me wonder if you have been in any kind of fight since your last “school yard scrap?” No where does it say the victim ran his mouth. But that’s not the point, is it? Even if he had run his mouth the firefighter made a horrific mistake — one that will impact the rest of his life almost as much as the impact he has had on the man he attacked.

It’s you that could you an “attitude adjustment.” I’m sure your family doctor could help you with the right prescription or referral.


“In your fantasy world the guy that got beat-up would have pulled his firearm at some point.”

Ignorant statement. CCW is specifically forbidden in bars and when consuming alcohol.

“Have you actually ever been in a bar fight, tough-guy?”

Another ignorant statement the answer to which is: Nope. I learned early on in life to conduct myself in an honorable manner and to avoid violent situations. Specifically, I avoid establishments that allow bar room brawls.

“…the only place “simple fist fight outside of a bar” exist are in the movies.”

Ignorant uninformed statement. You have never seen 2 people exit a bar for the purpose of ‘settling it outside’??? Are you a sheltered keyboard commando?

“It’s you that could you an “attitude adjustment.””

Are you basing this opinion on your in-depth education and experience through pop-psychology 101? You have zero clue who I am and what I am about, but yet you assume that you are qualified to question my attitude and suggest an adjustment? That kind of confrontation tone suggests that perhaps it is not I that has the attitude.

I 100% agree that this firefighter conducted himself in a felonious manner and should be punished for his actions. What he did is absolutely wrong.

Is the real issue that you have with my posting actually stemming from my statement ‘Think about that the next time you see some crazy ‘zero tolerance’ policy.’?

Mr. Holly

If history stands this will likely be a job related incident. This will have been caused by all the frustration that has built up while being confined to the fire station with too much idle time except for working out most of the day, shopping at the supermarket for the next meal, trying to decide what is going to be watched on tv that night. Then maybe there is the stress of having to do this for an additional day or two before taking the next 10 days off and accumulating unused vacation time and then wondering how you will handle the taxes when you retire at 50 and get that big check.

i can understand the stress that this individual is under and why he had to take it out on his competition.

Obviously a medical diability that we will be paying for.


Well, if the firefighter ever worked for Cambria CSD when Tammy Rudock was GM, I can see where it could be stress related, no?


It will become work related when the civil lawsuits unfold.




Well, I am sure Brigham’s attorney won’t buy that bunch of malarkey.

Spirit Filled

I wonder if this angry buff guy would have left a guy chest high in the ocean to die? He probably would have saved the the guy before he died. I know one has nothing to do with the other but it is a thought isn’t it? The guy probably thinks he can walk on water. A lot of people do. I can personally assure them that it is not possible. The buff guy needs to stop thinking he is so special and become humble in our Lord’s eyes. We all do.

Just thought I’d throw that into the mix.

Sounds like the guy is sniffing glue or doing what ever you do with meth. Quit it! You are a bad example for the kids. Also what kind oof a man acts like an animal in public? Or even behind closed doors. Not much of a Spiritual Leader. Best get some help for that problem. Maybe now is a good time.


IMO, when a firefighter, or first responder, acts in such an uncontrolled, violent way against another person, beating them so severely they had to have a metal plate inserted in the face, there is no telling what he will do in any given situation.

He needs to be in Atascadero or Patterson where the staff is trained to deal with this firefighter’s kind of violent acting-out.

He should not be let loose on the street until he has been stabilized and the rest of the community can be assured he won’t be going into another psychotic rage in the future.