Downtown San Mateo afternoon assault leads to armed confrontation 

Police arrested a man suspected of aiming a gun at a man in busy downtown San Mateo on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident began when a person, who witnesses described as an older man, struck a 57-year-old woman in the back, nearly knocking her down, and continued walking.

Another man, 23-year-old Ashley Viola of San Pablo, was driving near Third Avenue and San Mateo Drive and witnessed the assault.

Police said Viola asked the woman if she was okay and when she said yes, he parked his vehicle, approached the assault suspect and aimed a .45-caliber semi-automatic gun at him.

Police received multiple reports from witnesses and responded to the scene shortly after 3 p.m.

Responding officers aimed their weapons at Viola, ordering him to drop his gun, police said.

Viola allegedly turned towards the officer with the gun in his hands and ready to fire.

Police said the officers continued to order Viola to drop the gun. Viola eventually complied and he was safely detained.

Police said that Viola needlessly jeopardized many lives by introducing a weapon in the busy downtown area and witnesses said they were shaken by the armed confrontation.

Kiera McKernan, a manager at Edmond’s Plaza Florist at the intersection where the confrontation occurred, said a customer came in screaming for her to call 911.

“I was so scared when it first happened, but thank God they caught him,” she said.

Meanwhile down the street, Bruce Wynn, a salesman at Footwear Etc. had closed the store after a “hysterical” woman ran in asking him to call 911 and saying there had been a shootout down the street, he said.

Wynn said he locked the store doors and was preparing to “herd” customers into the basement if needed.

Viola was booked into the San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of assault with a firearm, drawing a firearm in a threatening manner, and carrying a loaded firearm.

The man who assaulted the woman was detained and interviewed, police said.

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