WOODBINE — A firefighter at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay has been on paid leave since he was accused of assaulting members of a wedding party in Woodbine nearly 19 months ago.
Jonathan H. Sirmon, a civilian firefighter at the Navy base, was arrested Aug. 18, along with two Camden County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Daniel C. O’Neal and Thomas McGraw. A woman, Teri Lee Melo, of Waverly, was also arrested in the incident.
All four were charged with two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated assault and one count of simple battery.
The deputies were arrested 10 days after the altercation. Sheriff Jim Proctor fired them that day. Sirmon was assigned to administrative duties after his arrest.
Scott Bassett, a public affairs office spokesman at Kings Bay, confirmed Sirmon is on paid administrative leave.
“His case is still active, so I cannot provide further details until it is adjudicated,” he said.
Jim Stein, a lawyer who represented the groom, Robert Hogan, after the incident, expressed surprise Sirmon was still on the payroll 19 months after the incident.
“A guy beats up a guy at a wedding, and he gets paid,” Stein said. “What happens if he’s convicted? Will he have to pay back the money he’s been paid since he was placed on leave? What does this say about our federal government?”
According to reports, friends of the groom were helping clean up after most of the guests left the wedding party when four uninvited people showed up. They were asked to leave after two of the men got into a shoving match with the groom’s brother-in-law minutes after they arrived.
The suspects were run off the property, only to return a few minutes later when the melee erupted. The groom, Robert Hogan, said he was jumped from behind and knocked to the ground, where he was kicked and beaten.
Hogan said Melo kicked him in the face while he was on the ground and punched his bride in the jaw.
The suspects were identified by members of the wedding party who witnessed the altercation.
Hogan was hospitalized after the incident with multiple bruises and a broken foot that required surgery. Hogan’s brother-in-law sustained a broken shoulder and ankle, as well as a head contusion that required staples to close.
A trial is scheduled at the Camden County Courthouse in Woodbine, with the jury selection and criminal trial scheduled Aug. 21, according to court records.