SAVANNAH, GA – A U.S. Marine veteran, that happened to have been carrying a concealed weapon reportedly, chased down a male suspect who had just allegedly raped a woman inside of a bathroom at a Kroger grocery store on April 27th.
With the quick actions taken by this veteran, he was able to subdue and detain the suspect until police arrived at the scene to bring the suspect into custody.
Residents of a Savannah, Georgia neighborhood are calling Damian Austin a hero for detaining a man accused of raping a woman in a grocery store bathroom. https://t.co/bCvYTiqXem
— CBS 42 (@CBS_42) April 30, 2021
At approximately 6:30 PM on April 27th, Damian Austin was inside of the Kroger grocery store on Ogeechee Road doing some shopping, when he suddenly heard a woman screaming from inside a bathroom at the store:
“It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck because it wasn’t a normal yell.”
Following the scream that emanated from the bathroom, Austin noted that the inside of the store became a tad bit hectic before he was able to learn of what allegedly transpired in the restroom:
“A lady behind me just said ‘he raped that girl in the bathroom.’ Once she said that, there was nothing else for me to do besides go out the door after him.”
Austin immediately sprang into action and started to pursue the suspect on foot, reportedly chasing him through the store parking lot and into a grassy area located behind a nearby Ace Hardware store.
Austin was able to catch up with the alleged rapist, pulling out his sidearm and ordering the individual to surrender:
“He locked eyes with me and I looked at him and I said, ‘give it up brother, because I’m not.’”
“I told him to put his hands in the air. He complied and put them up…I told him to get on the ground, and he tried to say something, and I said: ‘Don’t say a word.’”
Security footage that captured portion of the incident reportedly substantiate the version of events relayed by Austin.
While holding the suspect at gunpoint, a woman had reportedly went inside one of the stores and brought out a package of zip ties to help restrain the suspect while authorities were en route.
Austin stated that while the man was being restrained by the zip ties, he made sure that the suspect didn’t move:
“I kept drawn down on him and made sure he didn’t move.”
Authorities arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and took the suspect into custody, which officials identified the suspect as 25-year-old Gregory Hathorne.
The suspect has been reportedly charged with felony kidnapping, felony rape, and misdemeanor battery.
According to the female victim involved in the case, she reportedly told investigators that she had never met the suspect prior to the alleged attack inside of the grocery store bathroom.
Looking back at the situation, Austin is pleased to have seen so many people work collaboratively to take down the suspect:
“There are people who still care, and they’ll act in time of need.”
When commenting on his motivation to insert himself into a volatile situation, Austin stated that he feels compelled to make sure those who harm people within his community are brought to justice:
“My wife shops here, I have friends whose wives shop here, my son works here. So, it was just about not letting this person get away after he did what he did.”
Chatham County Police Department Chief Jeff Hadley extended sincere accolades for the bravery demonstrated by Austin and others who helped apprehend Hathorne:
“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.”
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
The case bears similarities to one that occurred back in February in Philadelphia, where a woman was reportedly raped inside of a Macy’s bathroom.
Here’s that previous report.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – According to Philadelphia Police officials, a 55-year-old woman was sexually assaulted inside of a restroom in a Macy’s store by a male suspect.
Police had initially asked for the public’s assistance in helping identify the suspect involved in the attack, which reportedly paid off, as a tipster was said to have identified the suspect for police.
Find this pig!!! Philadelphia Police: Suspect Wanted For Sexually Assaulting 55-Year-Old Woman Inside Center City Macy’s – CBS Philly https://t.co/yAJtSUS1wU
— Othalie Graham 🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@OthalieGraham) February 23, 2021
The incident reportedly occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. at the Macy’s location situated along the 1300 block of Market Street on February 21st.
Philadelphia Police Captain Mark Burgmann stated that the victim had decided to use the restroom while shopping, which her attacker was reportedly waiting inside of the women’s restroom:
“A 55-year-old female who was shopping at the store with her husband, she decided to use the bathroom on the third floor. She went inside the bathroom and went into the stall, the offender jumped over the stall.”
“He dragged her out of one stall into another stall where he then raped her.”
Captain Burgmann stated that the suspect was waiting inside of the restroom for as long as 20 minutes before the victim had entered and was assaulted:
“It’s pretty brazen to go inside of the bathroom for 20 minutes and wait there, thinking someone else is going to come in.”
Captain Burgmann further noted that the suspect had used numerous skewers as a makeshift-edged weapon to threaten the victim during the attack:
“About 12 inches long, sharp sticks being used for cooking, for shish kabobs. He had several of them in his hand and he threatened her with those.”
From what police officials say, the suspect then exited the store after the attack and headed over to a nearby train station and exited the train at 52nd and Market Street.
Investigators tried to tracing the suspect’s movements thereafter, but were coming up dry during the preliminary portions of the investigation.
Hence, police reached out to the public to help identify the suspect involved in the February 21st sexual assault. Authorities had described the suspect as a black male, possibly in his 20s, with a thin build and totes a, “unique” walk.
Days after the sexual assault, a tip came in to police, alleging that the suspect seen in the surveillance footage was 22-year-old Jaleel Uqdah.
Police were said to have arrested Uqdah on February 24th at his residence located within the the 1200 block of North 53rd Street in West Philadelphia.
When speaking about the arrested of Uqdah, Captain Mark Burgmann stated that a search of the suspect’s home uncovered the clothing he was wearing during the date of the incident as well as the alleged weapon used:
“We were able to execute a search warrant at the address of our offender. We took him into custody and recovered all of the clothing, detailed clothing, he was wearing along with one of the skewers he had in his possession.”
Uqdah was reportedly charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, robbery, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, possession of an instrument of crime, false imprisonment and other offenses.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.