If Donny Jones hadn't been rehabbing a house, he wouldn't have been headed to a Home Depot and he wouldn't have been driving along Lake Shore Drive just as a woman needed his help as she fled an attacker.
"The chances of me being right there at the right place — it’s nothing but God,” Jones, 38, said.
Jones was passing Jackson Harbor on the South Side around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when he spotted the woman darting out into traffic and trying to flag down cars. As traffic stopped, the woman banged on Jones’ car window and asked if she could get in, saying she had just been attacked.
“She said he grabbed her from behind … pulled her down,” Jones said.
Michael Adams, 24, who served two years in the Marines ending in 2011, was driving south when he saw the man, wearing jeans, running after a woman who was wearing running clothes.
“It looked odd,” said Adams, who was headed home to the Southeast Side after going to a gym Wednesday afternoon.
Adams made a U-turn near a stoplight, and saw the man grab the woman from behind and send her to the ground. While he had her on the ground, Williams tried to take off the woman's clothes, but she was able to fight him off, according to a police report.
Adams stopped his car and followed the man, yelling at him to stop. The man told him that the woman had tried to rob him, but wouldn’t stop, Adams said.
A Park District worker joined the chase, and when Jones saw the man running away on the lakefront path, he sped after him too. "I just pressed the gas." Jones passed the man, stopped his car and jumped out and joined two other men who were chasing the attacker.
"We all gave chase to the guy," Jones said. "We had to tackle in him in the grass."
Jones said he punched the man while struggling with him on the ground. "I hit him in the face and knocked him out," Jones said.
But the man came around before officers came to the scene, and Jones said he had to throw a few more punches. Adams and Jones were occupied with trying to keep the attacker from running away, so the Park District worker called police, Adams said.
"He kept trying to get up," Adams said. "I wouldn't have been able to call police if it was just me."
A few minutes later, police officers on Chicago Park District detail showed up and handcuffed the man, identified by police as Brandon Williams, 24, of Calumet Park.
The victim, a 36-year-old woman, and the witnesses spent the rest of the afternoon speaking with detectives. Jones said detectives brought him in to speak to the victim briefly because she wanted to thank him. “I didn’t really look at it as something heroic, I’m just happy she was OK,” said Jones.
Williams was charged with criminal sexual abuse by force and was ordered held in lieu of $750,000 bail Friday.
The victim told investigators that she had been jogging south when she first saw Williams, who at the time was walking north, then he grabbed her from behind with both arms, then threw her to the ground face-down before she struggled onto her back, prosecutors said Friday. She had to struggle to get away twice before she was able to get to Lake Shore, prosecutors said.
In 2009, Williams pleaded guilty in a criminal sexual abuse case and is a registered sex offender. His 2009 convicted involved an incident at Moraine Valley Community College, prosecutors said today. Detectives are investigating whether he is responsible for other attacks, police said.
This was not the first time Jones has come to someone's rescue. Five years ago, Jones said he ran after a man who had grabbed the purse of a woman leaving a Blackhawks game. The robber got away and he dropped the bag, he said.
Jones lives in Markham and owns a restaurant in Chicago Heights.
Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas contributed.
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