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Park Ranger's Lecture on Social Distancing Doesn't Go Well

Brandon Hicks, 25, is accused of pushing Texas park ranger Cassidy Stillwell into a lake
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2020 8:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Texas park ranger who was politely instructing a crowd on social distancing Thursday unexpectedly ended up in a lake—and the man accused of pushing him in has been arrested. The ranger, identified by CNN as Cassidy Stillwell, was patrolling Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park in Austin around 5pm on Thursday when he came across a group of people who were illegally drinking and smoking, as well as standing too close together in violation of coronavirus guidelines, per an affidavit cited by the Austin American-Statesman. As seen in a cellphone video that circulated on Reddit, as Stillwell stood on the edge of a dock and calmly told the crowd to "disperse" and keep "6 feet of distance" among themselves, a man suddenly reached out and shoved him into the shallow water. Stillwell can be seen grabbing onto the man and pulling him into the water as well.

The two quickly emerged from the lake, and the man ran off. Brandon Hicks, 25, was later apprehended and identified by witnesses. The suspect's "intentional and reckless action could have caused the ranger to strike his head on the dock ... and render himself unconscious in at least 3 feet of water, where he could have drowned," the arrest affidavit said, per KXAN. The person who shot the video says Stillwell was being "sweet and understanding" before he got pushed. The city's Parks and Rec Department notes it's "saddened" by the incident, per ABC News. As for Hicks, who faces charges of attempted assault on a public servant, "he is embarrassed about his actions and has the utmost respect for law enforcement, particularly during these unprecedented times," his lawyer tells CNN. Hicks was released from the Travis County Jail on $7,500 bond, with a June 19 court date. (Read more social distancing stories.)

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