Patriots’ Justin Herron Honored As A Hero For Helping Stop A Sexual Assault

Additional details emerged today of an incredible incident that occurred last March which included New England Patriots lineman Justin Herron. The offensive lineman helped rescue a 71-year-old woman who authorities say was about to be sexually assaulted.

The Tempe Police Department held a press conference after the incident presenting Herron, 25, and another Good Samaritan with Outstanding Service Awards for their heroic actions.

The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Kevin Caballero, had pushed the woman to the ground and attempted to remove her pants in Kiwanis Park in Ariz. when the Patriots star and another man intervened, police said during the press conference.

“If not for the swift actions of Mr. Justin Herron and Mr. Murry Rogers, this vicious attack could’ve been much worse,” Detective Natalie Barela said.

That March morning Justin Herron is out walking trying to stay in shape during the offseason in Kiwanis Park, near his home in Tempe, AZ. He is winding down his walk when he hears yelling. He can’t make out what the words are, or where they’re coming from, but he pulls out his earbuds and starts to scan the park. Eventually he zeroes in on a man and woman about 75 yards from him.

He’s not sure exactly what he is seeing, but his eyes lock with the woman’s. Herron pauses a long time as he tells this part of the story. “There was a moment that I don’t really want to get into,” he says. “There was just one moment when I realized how bad it was, but I don’t want to talk about it. It’s private.”

In that moment, he knows his walk is over. It’s time to run. Not far away is a woman that feels a push in the back, hears a strange man telling her to be quiet, and then she starts screaming. She screams over and over again, but nobody comes. People are around — she can see 10 or so bystanders in her peripheral vision — but her screams are just faint enough, just far enough off in the distance, that no one moves.

And then she makes eye contact with someone she calls her angel. “People need to know what an amazing person Justin is,” says the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous but agreed to an interview with ESPN to describe Herron’s involvement. “He couldn’t have known if that man had a weapon. He just did it spontaneously. Justin has given me hope for the rest of my life. I love him for it.”

That’s when her eyes connect with another man almost a football field away. “I saw her,” Herron says, and his words slow down. “And she saw me. And… I think… I felt like when I got there… we had a moment of eye contact. And then… the situation did de-escalate quickly and then it stopped, right there and then…”

Herron remembers making the decision to run, but he doesn’t remember actually running. He is suddenly just there, next to the man, a local homeless man named Kevin Caballero. When he gets to Caballero and puts his giant 8.88-inch hands on him, Herron is able to latch onto him and drive him, hard, into a heap across from the woman. Caballero tries to wobble back to his feet but Herron is making loud noises that he can hardly believe are coming from within him. His voice is guttural and terrifying, even to him. “Don’t move,” Herron yells.