Patrons of a restaurant jumped into action Friday afternoon when they saw a man grab a change jar from the front counter.
They followed the man outside the restaurant in the 900 block of West Orangethorpe Ave., and wrestled the jar away. But the let the man go when he pulled a knife and started swinging it at them, police said.
A Fullerton police sergeant – with an assist from an off-duty Seal Beach police officer, arrested the man a few minutes later as he headed toward a transient camp near the Riverside (91) Freeway and Euclid Street.
The man, Paul Avila, 42, is a parolee from outside Orange County, police said.
“Normally, we encourage people to call 911 and be the best possible witness they can be,” said Sgt. Jeff Stuart. “We’re grateful to the citizens for their efforts in helping us make the arrest and are grateful nobody was injured.”