Florida Gators football player stops a sexual assault

by | Jul 23, 2016

Here’s a much-needed positive story about a college athlete making headlines for all the right reasons. Early Thursday morning, Cristian Garcia, a walk-on linebacker for the Florida Gators, helped rescue a woman being sexually assaulted behind a Gainesville bar and then assisted police in identifying the assailant.

Garcia, a fourth-year junior from Miami, was working at 101 Cantina, a nightclub on University Avenue. When Garcia and co-worker Roy Simmons went to take out the trash around 2:20 a.m., they discovered a man sexually assaulting a woman behind the dumpster. As they got closer, they realized she was barely conscious and they heard her weakly calling out for help.

“The girl was basically unconscious, so I knew there was no way she could be giving consent,” Garcia told First Coast News. He said that several of the man’s friends were standing by watching, and not helping the woman, so he and Simmons stepped in, pulling him off her. The assailant threw a few punches and managed to flee, but was later apprehended by Gainesville Police. After his arrest, Garcia and Simmons identified him in a photo lineup.

The suspect has been identified as 34-year-old Christopher Lee Shaw, and is being investigated in connection with several other sexual assaults. He is being held in the Alachua County Jail on $500,000 bond, according to The Miami Herald.

“People are calling me a hero but I don’t feel like that — I was just doing the right thing,” said Garcia. “I hold strong moral values and I don’t think anyone should be taken advantage of in that kind of way.”

According to FloridaGators.com, Garcia previously worked for the Gator football video department before successfully going through the walk-on process last summer. His sole playing time came during the Gators’ 41-7 loss to Michigan at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, where he assisted in two tackles.

Photo credit: Tim Casey.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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