Justin Herron was exercising at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Arizona, late Saturday morning when he heard screams. They were coming from an elderly woman who was being attacked by a 30-year-old man, later identified as Kevin Caballero. According to eyewitnesses, Caballero pushed the 71-year-old retired schoolteacher to the ground and threatened to sexually assault her. But two bystanders intervened — and one was an NFL player.
Yesterday, Herron, a New England Patriot, and Murry Rogers, the other eyewitness who stepped in, were given “Outstanding Service” awards by Tempe police.
“It was a crazy experience,” the offensive lineman recalled at Wednesday’s press conference. Herron was baffled that an attempted attack could occur in a public park on a sunny, weekend day. “The fact that it happened there at that time was just very shocking.”
Herron continued, “In that moment I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I just knew that someone needed help.” So he leapt into action.
“I’m a football player — I’m kind of big,” said the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman. “I try not to be too aggressive with people knowing I could potentially hurt somebody.” Still, Herron said, “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.”
Rodgers also spoke about the incident in front of reporters. “I’m almost twice as old as Justin,” the Phoenix resident said. “I did my best to run to the situation and help however I could. We were yelling at him to get off. Once the attacker got off the victim, we looked at each other and said, ‘We have to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.’ A lot of effort was spent on making sure he sat down, didn’t move, and would wait for the police.”
Police came and arrested the man, who now faces charges of kidnapping and attempt to commit sexual assault. His bond is set at $500,000.
As for the 71-year-old, police said she suffered minor injuries and was treated for emotional trauma.
“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.
“These individuals took action,” Interim Chief of Tempe Police Jeffrey Glover added. “They didn’t run away and they really assisted our victim. It was truly amazing.”
But despite the award and recognition, Herron and Rodgers don’t consider themselves heroes. “There are so many heroes that go unnoticed on a daily basis,” the 2020 sixth rounder out of Wake Forest said. “I was just doing what anyone else would do in that moment.”