Man charged with attacking Berkeley restaurateur after denied free food

Surveillance video captured a frightening attack of a Thai restaurant manager in downtown Berkeley.

The incident happened on Shattuck Avenue at about 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

"A man came into the restaurant, and he demanded some free food," said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley police spokesman.

When the manager told him no, the suspect kneed the manager in the ribs and then kicked him after he falls to the ground.

"The suspect is attacking the manager and the manager is falling over a table and there are a number of other people in the restaurant," White said.

Two customers jumped up and immediately confronted the suspect. They held him down until Berkeley police arrived.

"Applaud their efforts," said White, adding however, "We certainly don't want to see anybody get hurt."

Berkeley police arrested Anthony Demaria, 32, in connection with the attack. Alameda County prosecutors have charged him with felony assault. He told one Good Samaritan he was upset because his grandmother had died. 

"I don't have any information as to his motives, but certainly nobody deserves to be attacked in that manner," White said.

Restaurant staff tell KTVU they've dealt with the same man at least twice before. In one case, they say he sat down for a meal and then left without paying.

But authorities say "dining and dashing" also known as defrauding an innkeeper is a far cry from a violent assault.

"I love that they held him down. They didn't let him run out. They held him until police came," said Dyanna Cogley, a Berkeley visitor after viewing the surveillance video.

Tony Li, who has eaten at the restaurant said, "If I was in that situation, I would probably take him down as well, customers stepping in, people stepping in."