A former U.S. Marine carrying a concealed firearm pursued a fleeing suspect who allegedly raped a woman in a Kroger grocery store bathroom and held the man at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived last week.
Marine vet Damian Austin said he was shopping in the Chatham County, Georgia, grocery store when he heard a woman scream from inside the bathroom, CBS 42 reported.
“It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck because it wasn’t a normal yell,” Austin told the local news outlet.
“A lady behind me just said ‘he raped that girl in the bathroom,’ and once she said that there was nothing else for me to do besides go out the door after him,” the Marine continued.
According to the news outlet, Austin chased the suspect through the parking lot until they reached the back of a neighboring Ace Hardware store.
As he approached the suspected rapist, he drew his firearm and demanded the attacker surrender.
“I told him to put his hands in the air. He complied and put them up,” said Austin. “I told him to get on the ground, and he tried to say something, and I said: ‘Don’t say a word.’”
A few minutes later, a woman jumped in to assist Austin.
“She went inside the store. A minute later she came out with a pack of large zip ties, and so she pulled out a couple and walked over there,” said Austin.
“I kept drawing on him and making sure he didn’t move,” he added.
When law enforcement arrived on scene, they arrested 25-year-old Gregory Hathorne, charging him with felony kidnapping, felony rape, and misdemeanor battery, according to WTOC.
“I just can’t commend them enough for involving themselves in a dangerous situation obviously, so this person could be held accountable and we could make an arrest so there wasn’t any further danger to the community,” Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said of the Good Samaritans.
The adult female victim told police that she did not know who Hathorne was. She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and received services from the Rape Crisis Center.
“To the family of the young lady and also to the young lady, I want to offer my sincerest most heartfelt prayers to you and your family, and I really hope young ma’am that you do not let this scar you too bad and dictate how you live your life from now on. Just know that there are guardian angels out there, there are people who do care, and I just want you like I said to be blessed and I am praying for you and your family,” Austin said, according to WTOC.
Ace Hardware gave Austin a $100 gift card for his heroic act. “It was just an awesome thing that you did and we just appreciate it,” the manager said.