Samaritans Disrupt Alleged Rape in Progress

Five young adults tackled and detained Paul Landingham until police arrived.

Oct. 29, 2007 — -- Five good Samaritans disrupted the alleged rape of a 22-year-old Oregon woman, chasing down and tackling the suspect until authorities arrived, police said.

Police in Salem, Ore., responded to a 911 call early Saturday morning from a young woman who reported that she and four friends had just confronted a man who appeared to be raping an unidentified woman along a busy road about three miles from the city's downtown.

When police arrived, they found a bloodied 37-year-old Paul Landingham being detained by three men and two women, all about 20 years old. They also discovered a woman who allegedly had been raped and physically assaulted by Landingham.

"It appears to be a complete stranger-on-stranger situation," Lt. Dave Okada told ABC News, adding that the alleged rape victim, already suffering from a leg injury that required that she use crutches, had been at a local tavern before being accosted on her walk home.

Katie Porter, 20, was among the five young adults traveling in a car that passed the crime scene outside an apartment complex. Both Landingham's and the woman's pants were pulled down, Porter said. While she initially thought the two might just be "drunk lovers," the group became suspicious and collectively decided to turn around for a closer look.

As they approached the apartment complex for a second time, Porter said, Landingham began to get up and the woman screamed for help. At this point, Porter said, all five passengers knew something was wrong.

"He got off the girl and started running," Porter said. "The three guys ran out and went over and tackled him."

The woman was transported to a local hospital, where she was treated for injuries sustained in the alleged assault and released.

Each of the five good Samaritans provided statements to police before they were allowed to go, Porter said. One of the young male adults hurt his hand during the scuffle with Landingham, an injury photographed by police.

"I'm really glad that we went back," Porter said. "She could have easily died."

Okada, the spokesman for the Salem police, warned against civilians simply taking justice into their own hands. "You don't know whether a suspect is armed or what their mind frame is," he said.

But Okada agreed the five passersby played a critical role in disrupting Saturday's crime. "In this case, it very potentially saved the victim from further injury," he said, "or death."

Landingham is being held without bail at the Marion County Correctional Facility. He faces charges of first-degree rape charge, assault and strangulation. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.