Knife-wielding man arrested after barricading self in restaurant

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EL CAJON, Calif. — A knife-wielding suspect who barricaded himself in an El Cajon restaurant for about an hour Saturday morning was taken into custody, according to police.

Officers responded to the El Cilantro Fresh Mexican Grill in the 1200 block of East Madison Avenue near the corner of North Second Street at about 7:40 a.m., according to El Cajon police.

“I told the cook, ‘run, he’s coming with a knife’ and I just started running. I was really scared,” said Mayra Castaneda, a manager of the restaurant.

Castaneda said this was the restaurant’s first week in El Cajon and Saturday was the first time they opened at 6 a.m., due to high demand.

Surveillance video shows the man walking straight into the kitchen, even passing Castaneda, but she barely notices him.

“I thought he was a maintenance guy coming to fix something but my cook, who was here in the front fixing some things, said, ‘call the police,’” Castaneda said. “I checked around the building to see where he had gone. I thought maybe he was just going to walk out the back and next thing I know, he’s coming really fast with a knife holding it at me,” said Castaneda.

According to El Cajon police, the man barricaded himself inside the restaurant. Castaneda said he was bribed with cigarettes and shot with a beanbag. He eventually gave up, tossing the knife and peacefully surrendering.

The standoff was over about an hour later with the suspect being taken into custody without incident, according to police.

“Today we got that really not-so-warm welcome, so we’re really scared, but we’re glad everything is back to normal, nobody got hurt, the man finally gave in,” Castaneda said.

Other businesses in the area were reportedly evacuated as a precaution. Police have not yet released further details.