By CBSBoston.com Staff

TEMPE, Arizona (CBS) — Patriots offensive lineman Justin Herron is being praised as a hero in Tempe, Arizona, after he helped stop an attempted sexual assault of a 71-year-old woman over the weekend.

Herron and Tempe resident Murry Rogers were honored by the Tempe police on Wednesday after the two intervened and stopped an attack at Kiwanis Park on March 20. Police said Kevin Caballero shoved the victim to the ground and tried to sexually assault her before Herron and Rogers stepped in and detained the 30-year-old until officers arrived.

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“It was a crazy experience. Something that I never dreamed I thought I would see,” Herron said Wednesday. “You see it in movies and TV all the time but you never think it would happen in real life until it does. In that moment, I was in shock. It was 11 a.m., not one cloud in the sky and in a very open field. The fact that it happened there at that time was just very shocking.”

Herron was walking around the park as a light workout, a break during his rigorous offseason regimen. He heard the victim screaming and his instincts kicked in.

“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 thrust myself over there and help the victim, make sure that I could comfort her and be the best person I could be to her around her.

“I’m a football player, so I’m kind of a big. I try not to be too aggressive knowing that I could hurt somebody. I do have a very loud voice, so I yelled and told him to get off of her,” he explained. “I yanked him off and told him to sit down. I told him to wait until the cops come.”

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Rogers, who was in the park to reserve a spot for his daughter’s birthday party, said that he helped detain the suspect while Herron got the victim away from the scene. Both men met with the victim on Wednesday, an emotional meeting for all parties involved. She called Herron and Rogers “her angels,” Murry said Wednesday.

Herron said that he doesn’t consider himself a hero for what he did.

“There are so many heroes that go unnoticed on a daily basis. I was just doing what anyone else would do in that moment,” he said.

“If there is someone in need, don’t turn a blind eye,” he added. “I’m not saying an individual should go up and try to save an individual. You have to make sure you’re not putting your life in danger as well. But if you see someone in need, a simple phone call to the police could make the difference. Just yelling, doing something to make the perpetrator nervous, or bring light where someone else could come – I encourage people to help. It doesn’t have to be physical. You can help in many different ways.”

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Herron was a sixth-round pick by the Patriots in 2020 out of Wake Forest, and played in 12 games for New England last season, including six starts.

CBSBoston.com Staff