New England Patriots offensive lineman Justin Herron has been honored by an Arizona police department for his role in saving a 71-year-old woman from a potential sexual assault in a public park.
Herron, 25, and Phoenix resident Murry Rogers were presented with Outstanding Service Awards by the Tempe Police Department on Wednesday for their role in stopping what police said was an attack on an older woman on March 21 in a local park.
The woman was taking her daily walk in Kiwanis Park in Tempe when a 30-year-old man, who has been identified as Kevin Caballero, threw her to the ground and attempted to remove her pants, police said.
Herron, who is 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, intervened along with Rogers to help the woman while also holding the man until police arrived.
"It was a crazy experience," Herron said at a news conference Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX. "It was something that I never dreamed that I thought I would see. You see it in movies and TV all the time but you never think it's gonna happen in real life until it does.
"In that moment, I was in shock. It was 11, it was in the middle of the day, not one cloud in the sky, and in a very open field, and the fact that it happened there at that time was very shocking."
Herron was doing a workout around the lake and Rogers was getting ready for a birthday party in the park for his 15-year-old daughter when they saw the woman in distress.
"I'm a football player, I'm kind of big," he said at the news conference. "I try not to be too aggressive with people knowing I could potentially hurt somebody. I do have a loud voice. 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."
"These two individuals stepped forward and really, truly saved her life," Tempe police chief Jeff Glover said at the ceremony.
Herron has been in Arizona for offseason training ahead of his second season with the Patriots. The team's sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest University said he was just reacting when he saw the woman being attacked.
"And in the moment, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I just knew that someone needed help," he said. "... All I could do was just rush myself over there and make sure and help the victim, and make sure that I comfort her and be the best person I can be."
Herron and Rogers have since met with the woman, who has not been identified.
"Over the past several days, I have thought about her and pictured her face, so it was really nice moment, and I'm really glad I got to meet her," Rogers said.
"My parents always talked to me about it, if there's someone in need, make sure you can help them and be the best you can be," Herron said. "I don't want this to happen again, I don't want to have to save someone else's life again, but I'm glad I was able to save someone's life on Saturday."