An off-duty California police officer is being hailed as a hero after he foiled the plans of an armed individual who walked into a restaurant on Valentine’s Day and allegedly threatened to kill everyone inside.

Officer Joe Silva. (Image source: Screen grab via KOVR-TV)

Officer Joe Silva. (Image source: Screen grab via KOVR-TV)

“I thought we were all gonna get shot — the guy saying, ‘I’m gonna kill everybody!’”  Matt Brown, who was at Stockton’s Arroyo’s Cafe Friday evening, told KOVR-TV.

“I thought we were all gonna get shot — the guy saying, ‘I’m gonna kill everybody!’”
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According to Brown’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill, the man’s actions followed an argument at the bar, which ultimately escalated and resulted in the suspect pointing a loaded firearm at patrons.

“‘He’s got a gun! He has a gun!’” she said.

“Next thing you know about 100 people just come storming out the door,” Brown recalled to KOVR-TV.

Ruben Acosta allegedly threatened to kill individuals inside a California restaurant on Valentine's Day after an argument at the bar. (Image source: Screen grab via KOVR-TV)

Ruben Acosta allegedly threatened to kill individuals inside a California restaurant on Valentine’s Day after an argument at the bar. (Image source: Screen grab via KOVR-TV)

Hill says she tried to tackle the man, but that’s also when off-duty officer Joe Silva moved into action.

“He says ‘Stockton P.D., you’re under arrest!’” she said.

Silva, armed with his own weapon, managed to disarm the man and held him at gunpoint outside until backup arrived to formally place the suspect under arrest. He is identified as Ruben Acosta, according to KOVR-TV. His companion, Aurora Mercado was also reportedly arrested.

“The weapon was taken into the restaurant by his female companion,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones. “She had taken it in her purse so both ultimately were arrested.”

Jones praised the actions of Silva, who is the department’s spokesperson.

“He’s usually the one working with the news, but today he’s the one actually making the news,” she said.

“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,” Jones added.

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