A hero rushed to the rescue of a woman who was raped and set on fire Friday night just south of Wichita State University in Kansas, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Deon McPherson, a 40-year-old building maintenance worker, said his girlfriend woke him up after hearing someone in Fairmount Park, just outside their apartment, shrieking and crying for help.
McPherson went outside to see what was happening, but never expected the horrific sight that greeted him: a woman engulfed in flames. Police say the woman had been sexually assaulted, hit on the head and was naked when she was set on fire in the park.
McPherson didn't hesitate before running straight into the "ring of fire" to help the woman, who was barely moving, trying to crawl out of the flames.
“What if that was my daughter? I’d want somebody to go in and get her,” McPherson said.
His original intent was to pull her out of the flames, but once he had leaped into the fire, he could see that it was growing and he could not get them both back through it safely.
Thankfully, though the fire was growing, it was also moving away from them. So McPherson did what he could to protect the woman, moving them as the flames adjusted until a fire crew arrived.
Police say the victim wasn't able to give them much information about her assailant, only that he was a black man. They also don't know whether it was a random act of violence, or whether she was targeted.
“Somebody out there knows what happened, and we need that information," Livingston said.
The woman's family said in a statement: "We just would hope that if anyone saw anything, if they would just come forward. We don't want this to happen to another innocent person. The victim is a mother to four beautiful children and is a very loving and caring person."
People in the community are horrified. Brody Wellman told KAKE-TV: "It's an outrage. This someone has to be held accountable for this. It's beyond words. I can't describe how disturbing it's been."
Wichita State University has planned a forum with campus and city officers to review safety protocols.
McPherson's girlfriend called him a hero for his brave acts, but he said he was just doing what anyone else would have done.
“No ‘hero’ stuff,” he said. “I was just being human.”
More on the story via KWCH-TV: