Austin pawn shop manager saves woman from attacker

Javier Cervantes (Austin Police Department Photo)
Javier Cervantes (Austin Police Department Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Alex Cantu has worked at the National Pawn and Jewelry off Airport Boulevard in east Austin for 10 years. He’s seen his fair share of events out the shop’s front windows.

“I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced a lot. A lot of car crashes, road rage, you name it,” Cantu said. He’s also worked there long enough to know the people who pass by his door daily.

Monday afternoon, Cantu was helping a customer when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. “There were two customers in front of me, I’m looking at them eye-to-eye but my peripheral is telling me, look that way,” Cantu explained. “I’m like what’s going on? I had to look that way and when I did, I saw her. I saw a woman getting attacked.”

Cantu realized it was a woman he regularly sees walking by the shop every day, but the man walking behind her was not her husband. That’s when the man grabbed the woman from behind and tried dragging her into the bushes nearby. Cantu jumped into action.

“I ran out the front door and I heard her crying. She said, ‘Get him off me, I don’t know him.’ He had her close to the middle of the bushes, at least 40 feet away from the sidewalk.”

Cantu pulled the man off and held him down, with the help of a co-worker, until police came. Officers arrested 35-year-old Javier Cervantes. According to an affidavit, he told them he was “trying to rape her.” When officers asked why, Cervantes said, “I don’t know, the devil told me to do it.”

Cantu says his employees are referring to him as a hero. He says it was good timing. “It’s just doing what you have to do when you see it, taking action. Especially in a situation like that, but I’m not a hero though, just doing the right thing.”

Cervantes is charged with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony.

Austin police say it’s best to be prepared to prevent something like this from happening. Pay attention to your surroundings, be alert and prepared. Senior officer Destiny Winston says freezing in fear is a common reaction but staying silent is the last thing you want to do.

“Use your words. Scream loud and make loud noises and draw attention, especially if you are in a crowded area or even if it’s somewhere isolated,” Winston said. “You never know, somebody might be nearby that has access to a phone to call 911 and get you some help on the way.”

Wooded area where woman was attacked in the 1100 block of Airport Boulevard in Austin. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Wooded area where woman was attacked in the 1100 block of Airport Boulevard in Austin. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns) provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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