Armed runner helps save woman during alleged sexual assault on trail

Image courtesy of AP

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department says it has arrested a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on a trail in downtown Austin. APD reports Richard McEachern, 22, is currently in the Travis County Jail.

McEachern allegedly attacked the woman on the trail near East Avenue and Cummings Street on Friday, around 5:46 a.m. According to an arrest affidavit, the victim said she was running on the trail when she heard loud steps behind her. The victim told police the suspect then grabbed her from behind, like a “bear hug.”

When they fell to the ground, the suspect put his hand over the victim’s mouth and told her “shh, it’s me baby, it’s me,” according to the court documents. The victim said she tried to scream and blow her whistle but he didn’t stop.

The victim said the suspect started dragging her, which caused her shorts to come off and then he proceeded to sexually assault her.

According to the affidavit, an armed Good Samaritan said he was jogging on the trail when he heard a woman screaming. When he approached the two people on the ground, he said the suspect tried to leave, but he pulled out his gun and told the suspect “to stay on his knees.” However, when the victim got up, she blocked the Good Samaritan’s line of fire. That’s when the suspect grabbed the woman’s garments and ran away.

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Another jogger saw the man running, and went to help the victim, according to Assistant Police Chief Joe Chacon.

“We are grateful, particularly to those joggers who stopped, and where other people might have kept on going saying they didn’t want to get involved, they stopped and helped their fellow citizen,” Chacon said.

Surveillance cameras from the nearby Mexican American Cultural Center caught video of a man with a similar description. When police found McEachern on Sept. 18, they said he was sleeping just off the trail and was naked from the waist down. APD says it believes he was a transient.

They initially arrested him on outstanding warrants, then a warrant was issued Tuesday for sexual assault after the victim identified him in a photo lineup.

McEachern’s bond has been set at $200,000.

Austin police say they believe this was an isolated incident and was not connected to an attack on a runner at the Austin High School track a few weeks ago.

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