An NFL player is being called a hero by police for helping to save a retired schoolteacher from an attempted sexual assault in Tempe, Arizona, last Saturday.
“You see it in movies and TV all the time, but you never think it’s going to happen in real life until it does. In that moment, I was in shock,” Justin Herron said during a press conference Wednesday with Murry Rogers, another bystander credited with stopping the attack. The two were presented with Outstanding Service Awards by the Tempe Police Department.
A 30-year-old man was attempting to sexually assault a 71-year-old woman in a public park, according to police, when Herron and Rogers heard screams for help. Herron, a 6’5” offensive lineman who just completed his rookie season with the New England Patriots, said he was taking a walk when he heard the attack.
“I just knew in that moment that I had to go,” said Herron, who ordered the man to stop and pulled him off the woman.
“I try not to be too aggressive with individuals, knowing that I could potentially hurt somebody,” Herron said. The suspect complied and remained stationary as police were en route.
Rogers said he was in the park for his daughter’s birthday party and kept the suspect from fleeing while Herron consoled the victim. “It was terrifying to witness,” he said.
The man was taken into custody and the investigation into the attack is ongoing, police said.
“If not for the swift actions of Mr. Justin Herron and Mr. Murry Rogers, this vicious attack could’ve been much worse,” Tempe Police Detective Natalie Barela said.
The two Good Samaritans were reunited privately with the victim prior to the press conference.
“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.”
“She thanked us. She called us her angels,” said Rogers. “I’m a little bit of a crier, so it was very emotional.”