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Off-Duty Stockton Police Officer Arrests Man With Gun At Restaurant

STOCKTON (CBS13) - An off-duty police officer is being called a hero after he confronted an armed suspect who pulled out a gun in a busy restaurant. His valiant efforts may have saved a lot of lives.

Arroyo's Cafe was packed with families eating dinner on Valentine's Day, and things could have turned out much worse if Officer Joe Silva hadn't sprung into action.

"He's usually the one working with the news, but today he's the one actually making the news," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

Talk about a role reversal. Jones describes his own police department spokesperson's quick action that may have saved lives.

"I thought we were all gonna get shot -- the guy saying, 'I'm gonna kill everybody!'" said Matt Brown, who was at the restaurant.

Brown's girlfriend, Virginia Hill, said things were fine until suddenly an argument started at the bar. Police say it escalated and a man pulled a loaded gun out and started pointing it at patrons.

"Next thing you know about 100 people just come storming out the door," said Brown

"'He's got a gun! He has a gun!'" said Hill.

She says she tried to tackle the man, but that's when off-duty officer Joe Silva, who was there eating with his family, took action.

"He says 'Stockton P.D., you're under arrest!'" said Hill.

Drawing his own weapon, Silva led the man out of the restaurant and managed to take away his weapon, say police. Silva then held the man at gunpoint until more officers arrived and arrested the man. He is identified as Ruben Acosta. His companion, Aurora Mercado, was also arrested.

"The weapon was taken into the restaurant by his female companion. She had taken it in her purse so both ultimately were arrested," said Jones.

It was a terrifying moment that was quickly defused by Silva.

"Had Joe not been there and done the actions that he did, we probably would have had a shooting and possibly even a homicide at the restaurant," said Jones.

And because of his role as spokesperson, Officer Silva does not find himself in these tense situations as much anymore, but does have 20 years experience with the department.

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