Denny's gasoline attack thwarted by quick-thinking mother and son

A man armed with a can of gasoline could be charged with attempted murder after police in Hayward say he tried to set fire to a Denny's restaurant on Wednesday while people were eating breakfast. 

The man was being held Wednesday for psychiatric evaluation in Alameda County. 

Had it not been for a mother and her son's quick thinking and intervention, things could have been much worse. 

The woman, who only wanted to be identified as Celia, says her 21-year-old son works the overnight shift at Tesla. He decided to go to Denny's for breakfast after leaving work. 

She says while they were eating, they heard yelling and a commotion near the entrance of the building. She says she heard someone say a man was shooting gasoline at people. 

Police say five or six people were doused with what smelled like gasoline, including a mother and a small child who ran out of the restaurant. 

Celia says she saw the man struggling with a lighter and that her son immediately sprang into action.

"That's when my son threw the chair and hit him so he could drop everything and startle him with enough time to get the fire extinguisher and kind of shoot him in the face and he kept on shooting him in the face and push[ed] him out," Celia says. 

Celia says her son managed to get the man out of the restaurant and the Denny's employees locked the door.

They say the suspect was covered in blood and out of it, trying to escape when police pulled up just in time to arrest him. 

The suspect has reportedly had previous run-ins with the law, officials say.