RALEIGH (WTVD) --The Raleigh Police Department has arrested a man after it says a woman was attacked in downtown Raleigh.
It happened around 2 a.m. January 28 in the 300 block of East Martin Street near Moore Square.
A witness just happened to come by when it happened.
"I was at the intersection and I just happened to see her and her pants were down and she was trying to fight him off," said the witness in a 911 call.
The witness said he tried to chase the suspect, but he ran off.
Investigators said the 49-year-old victim did not know her attacker.
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Thursday, police arrested 21-year-old Matthew Micheal Herron in the incident. An arrest warrant says he beat the woman in the head with his fists causing lacerations.
He's charged with attempted second-degree forcible rape, first-degree kidnapping, and assault inflicting serious injuries.
According to court records, Herron is also a suspect in a rape and indecent liberties case from when he was 19-years-old. The Wake County District Attorney's Office says that case is still pending. Herron was out on bond.
In the wake of the attack, we asked InterAct of Wake County for some tips on preventing assault. Here's what they told us:
Safety planning when someone is hurting you:
- Become familiar with safe places. Learn more about safe places near you such as a local domestic violence shelter or a family member's house. Learn the routes and commit them to memory. Find out more about sexual assault service providers in your area that can offer support.
- Create a code word. It might be a code between you and your children that means "get out," or with your support network that means "I need help."
- Keep computer safety in mind. If you think someone might be monitoring your computer use, consider regularly clearing your cache, history, and cookies. You could also use a different computer at a friend's house or a public library.
- Lean on a support network. Having someone you can reach out to for support can be an important part of staying safe and recovering. Find someone you trust who could respond to a crisis if you needed their help.
- Prepare an excuse. Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times or for existing situations that might become dangerous. Have these on hand in case you need to get away quickly.
- Stay safe at home. If the person hurting you is in your home, you can take steps to feel safer. Try hanging bells or a noise maker on your door to scare the person hurting you away, or sleep in public spaces like the living room. If possible, keep the doors inside your house locked or put something heavy in front of them. If you're protecting yourself from someone who does not live with you, keep all the doors locked when you're not using them, and install an outside lighting system with motion detectors. Change the locks if possible.
Safety planning when someone is stalking you:
- Be prepared to reach out. If possible, keep your cell phone charged and have emergency contact numbers programmed ahead of time. You may want to save these contacts under a different name. Memorize a few numbers in case you don't have cell phone access in the future.
- Change your routine. Be aware of your daily routine and begin to alter it over time. Switch up the way you commute more often, taking different routes or different modes of transportation.
- Tell someone you trust. Stalking shouldn't be kept a secret. Tell your loved ones, parents or other trusted adults, or the local police to determine if a report can be made.
Safety planning when leaving the person hurting you:
- Make an escape bag. Pack a bag that includes all important papers and documents, such as your birth certificate, license, passport, social security card, bills, prescription drugs, and medical records. Include cash, keys, and credit cards. Hide the bag well. If it's discovered, call it a "hurricane bag" or "fire bag." If you are escaping with children, include their identifying information as well.
- Plan a destination. If you're not going to stay with someone you know, locate the nearest domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.
- Plan a route. Then plan a backup route. If you are driving, have a tank of gas filled at all times. If you rely on public transportation, know the routes departure times. Many public transportation systems have mobile apps that update their schedules and arrival times.
- Prepare your support network. Keep your support network in the loop. Let them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them.
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