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Armed good Samaritan stopped Hike-and-Bike trail sex assault, affidavit says

A good Samaritan with a gun stopped the reported sex assault on the Hike-and-Bike trail Friday morning, police said in an arrest affidavit for the suspect.

An arrest affidavit obtained by KVUE Wednesday revealed that an armed good Samaritan stopped a reported sexual assault that allegedly happened on the Hike-and-Bike trail near Lady Bird Lake Friday, Sept. 15.

Richard McEachern, 22, is accused of forcing a female runner to the ground early Friday morning and sexually assaulting her near East Avenue and Cummings Street. Austin police announced Tuesday that they had arrested McEachern and placed him on a bond set at $200,000. According to the documents, McEachern was found Monday and booked Tuesday into the Travis County Jail.


Police: Suspect arrested linked to sex assault near Hike-and-Bike Trail

Runners initially reported that they saw a man running down the trail "holding his pants up and holding a pair of shorts.” Later, the runners saw two other people helping a woman who had been attacked and had her shorts taken.

According to the affidavit for McEachern, the woman told police she was running eastbound on the trail when she heard loud steps approaching behind her. Police said he grabbed her from behind and fell on top of her on the ground. The affidavit said he put his hand over her mouth and repeatedly said, "shh, it's me baby, it's me" as she tried to scream and use a whistle to call for help.

Police said the man told the alleged victim that he was a virgin and this was his "first time."

A nearby jogger, later identified by police as Joshua Williams, heard the woman scream and ran over to help. Police said Williams pointed his flashlight on the victim and the attacker and pointed his gun at the suspect, demanding he get off the victim. The attacker stood up, naked from the waist down, police said.

"[Williams] just happened to be running by, she was actively fighting and trying to get away from this person screaming out for help and so that is how he heard and came upon her and came to her aid," Austin Assistant Police Chief Joseph Chacon said.

Williams also told police the victim got in his line of fire and that's when the suspect grabbed the victim's shorts and shoes and took off.

Later that day, investigators found video of a possible suspect near the Mexican American Cultural Center at 600 River Street. On Monday, police said they found McEachern -- naked from the waist down -- sleeping near the trail in the area of the attack. He was identified in a photo lineup after he was taken into custody, police said.

Rachel Alexander, who lives near the attack and is a runner herself, called Williams a hero for stopping it.

"I would think so," Alexander said. "I mean, he stopped a woman from probably getting raped."

Chacon thanked Williams and other joggers who cared enough to stop and help. He said many people would have chosen not to get involved, which may have contributed to the number of unsolved sexual assault cases in the past few years.

Austin Police even alluded to it in a public service announcement it made after a string of unsolved sexual assaults from November 2015 to April 2016.

Chacon said it is very frustrating.

"We want to catch every single one of them and if we can, we want to prevent them before they ever happen," Chacon said.

In a press conference Wednesday, an APD representative said that McEachern was believed to be a transient and there was no evidence linking him to any other reported assaults.

Iram Leon, the president of the Austin Runner's Club, gave advice for a safe run.

"So we always recommend to people to never run alone but if they have to do that, we encourage them to run with a light that is lighting up where they're going, we encourage them to not wear music, and if something that just doesn't look right up ahead, you turn around," said Leon.

Police said bike patrols will continue around the hike-and-bike trails as call load permits, especially during the early morning hours.

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