NFL player Justin Herron is being hailed as a hero for helping stop the attempted sexual assault of a 71-year-old retired teacher in Arizona.
“At that moment, I was in shock,” Herron said at a press conference Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX. “I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I could just tell someone needed help. All I could do was rush myself over there to make sure I could help the victim and I could comfort her and be the best person I can be.”
Officers responded to a report of an attack shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, just east of Phoenix, according to authorities. The woman was on her daily walk in the park when she was approached by a man, police said.
Authorities identified the man as Kevin Caballero, 30, who police said shoved the woman to the ground, “held her down and attempted to remove her pants.”
Herron said he and Murry Rogers, of Phoenix, were in the park when they heard screams for help and intervened in the attack. The New Englands Patriots reserve offensive lineman, who is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs nearly 300 pounds, said he tried “not to be too aggressive” when he pulled the suspect away from the victim.
“I yelled, told him to get off of her and then yanked him off and I told him to sit down and I told him to wait until the cops come,” Herron said.
Rogers said he detained Caballero while Herron comforted the victim.
Police said the victim had “minor injuries” and that the department’s crisis unit responded and treated the victim for any emotional trauma from the attack.
Caballero faces charges of attempted sexual assault and kidnapping, police said.
Efforts to reach Caballero by phone were unsuccessful Thursday.
“If not for the swift actions of Mr. Justin Herron and Mr. Murry Rogers, this vicious attack could’ve been much worse,” Natalie Barela, a Tempe police detective, said Wednesday.
Herron and Rogers were presented with Outstanding Service Awards from the Tempe Police Department.
The two were briefly reunited with the victim shortly before the press conference Wednesday.
“It was heartwarming to see her, but also gut-wrenching to see how she responded to the trauma and how she’s dealing with it,” Herron said. “No one should go through that.”