A Marine veteran was shopping at Kroger when he heard a scream and a woman saying a man raped a girl in the store’s bathroom. That was all it took to send the veteran flying into action — and surveillance camera video captured it all.
Damian Austin, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, was shopping at a Kroger store in Savannah, Georgia on a Tuesday evening when a woman’s screams stopped him in his tracks. “It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck because it wasn’t a normal yell,” Austin recalled, according to KFOR.
Other shoppers also heard the screams, which were reportedly coming from the bathroom, and for a few moments, there was confusion in the store. Then, onlookers quickly realized the unimaginable had just occurred. The woman was allegedly sexually assaulted in the grocery store restroom after a man followed her inside, and the suspect had run out of the bathroom and tried to flee the scene, The Blaze reported.
That was all it took for the Marine veteran to fly into action. “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,” Austin explained, and that’s exactly what he did. In a situation where others would run the other direction, the former Marine chased the suspect through the parking lot.
Eventually, Austin caught up with the suspect — later identified as 25-year-old Gregory Hathorne — in the back of a nearby Ace Hardware store, where he then ordered him onto the ground and held him at gunpoint. Security footage, obtained by WSAV, captured the exact moment Austin took Hathorne down.
“I told him to put his hands in the air. He complied and put them up,” Damian Austin recalled. “I told him to get on the ground, and he tried to say something, and I said, ‘Don’t say a word.’” As Austin held the man on the ground, a woman lent the Marine hero a hand, bringing a pack of large zip ties to him from the store.
“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,” Austin said. “I kept drawing on him and making sure he didn’t move,” he added. Officers with the Chatham County Police Department eventually arrived on the scene, placed Gregory Hathorne in handcuffs, and took him into custody. He was arrested on charges of felony rape, felony kidnapping, and misdemeanor battery and held at the Chatham County Detention Center.
Austin has since been hailed a hero for chasing the rape suspect down. The Ace Hardware store manager showed his appreciation for Austin’s bravery by presenting the heroic Marine with a $100 store gift card, but Austin was quick to point out that he didn’t do it for the accolades. Instead, Damian Austin had one goal in mind: He was simply trying to make his neighborhood safer.
“I immediately thought, ‘My wife shops here, I have friends whose wives shop here, my son works here,’” Austin explained. “So it was just about not letting this person get away after he did what he did,” he added. He said he hopes the victim finds some comfort in knowing her suspected attacker is behind bars and wants her to know, “There are people who still care, and they’ll act in time of need.”
Both Chief Jeff Hadley and Doris Williams, director of the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire, applauded Damian Austin for taking action rather than doing what most people would do and just recording the chaos. “We’re very thankful for those citizens — it was very brave of them to do that. You know, oftentimes we see a lot of people standing around with a phone and film something, but they won’t intervene,” Chief Hadley explained.
Doris Williams echoed similar sentiments, says it’s a good thing bystanders jumped into action. “Because in this day that we are in now you have people and sometimes when they see things they’ll record it,” Williams explained. “They’ll put out a camera before they call 911.” Instead, Austin showed amazing bravery that reminds any rape survivor that there is support if and when they need it. “I hope that in any situation we will see others rally and respond to support a survivor,” Williams said.
Thanks to the Second Amendment, Damian Austin easily accomplished what he set out to do. With a gun pointed in the suspect’s direction, the alleged rapist dropped to the ground, where Austin easily detained him until police arrived. A good guy with a gun removed an accused rapist from our streets. It’s a tragic story, but fortunately, it has a happier ending than it might have had otherwise. The suspect will face the consequence of his actions rather than getting away with a heinous crime, thanks to a heroic Marine. Job well done, sir.