SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Chatham County Police Department has arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a Berwick area grocery store.
Police arrested Gregory Hathorne, 25, Tuesday evening near the Kroger located at 5720 Ogeechee Road. He now faces charges of felony rape, felony kidnapping and misdemeanor battery.
Hathorne allegedly followed the victim into the women’s restroom at the grocery store, where he sexually assaulted her.
“Witnesses told police they heard the woman’s screams, and several people in the store chased the suspect as he attempted to flee the area,” officials said.
Outside in the shopping plaza, citizens restrained the suspect until police arrived on the scene around 6:30 p.m.
Surveillance video, given to WSAV by a manager at ACE Hardware, shows a bystander approaching Hathorne with a gun before he drops to the ground. Another person steps in and zip ties the suspect until officers arrive.
“Generically, I would always advise to call us, let us be law enforcement, because I would hate to see someone get injured,” said Chief Jeff Hadley.
“But it worked out,” he added. “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.”
Doris Williams, director of the Rape crisis Center of the Coastal Empire says 8 in 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.
In this case, he was a stranger and Williams says its 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,” said Williams, “they’ll put out a camera before they call 911.”
Williams says their bravery was amazing and she reminds any 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,” said Williams.
If you or someone you know needs help you can call the Rape Crisis Center hotline at (912) 233-7273.
Chief Hadley said the suspect has not lived in the Savannah area for long, and the incident is believed to be isolated.
“As a alarming as it was, I’m thankful that we were able to make an arrest and I don’t feel like there’s any further danger or anyone should feel concerned about going there and shopping.” said Hadley.
Hathorne remains in custody at the Chatham County Detention Center.