WATSONVILLE -- A 35-year-old Watsonville man was arrested Wednesday after he chased a woman into a restaurant, threatened several people with a machete and struggled with police.

Just before 5 p.m., Rigoberto Rodriguez chased a woman on the street until she reached California Grill at 1970 Freedom Blvd., said Watsonville police Sgt. Eric Taylor.

Two employees helped the woman and called 911. Rodriguez entered the restaurant and pulled a machete from his backpack. He held it above his head as a threat to the woman, police said.

A woman who worked at the restaurant stood in front of Rodriguez. Rodriguez left, put his machete in a backpack and stood in front of the restaurant's window.

Looking in the restaurant, he then motioned with his hand "as if we was slitting his throat," Taylor said.

Police arrived and saw Rodriguez's machete sticking out from the backpack that he held. An officer grabbed the backpack and threw it.

"Rodriguez then swung his fist at the officer's face in an attempt to punch him, but he missed," Taylor said.

A bystander helped the officer control Rodriguez so officers could handcuff him.

When officers put Rodriguez in a patrol car, he kicked at an officer but missed. He kicked another officer in the chest, but the officer was not injured, authorities said.

Rodriguez was arrested on suspicion of assault with a machete, resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer and making threats with

intent to terrorize, police said.

Rodriguez was transported to Santa Cruz County Jail.

Thursday, Watsonville police thanked the restaurant employees for their "selfless actions," Taylor said.

Watsonville police ask anyone with information to call investigations at 831-768-3352 or leave an anonymous tip on the tipline at 831-728-3544 or by texting WATSPD to 888777.

Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter at Twitter.com/sbaxter--sc

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