Man allegedly pushed Austin park ranger enforcing social distancing into a lake
The ranger was captured on video telling a crowd to stand six feet apart.
Austin police have arrested a man who allegedly pushed a park ranger into a lake.
The incident occurred on Thursday at Commons Ford, a public park that is home to Lake Austin, and was captured on a video posted on social media. In the video, a park ranger is seen standing near the lake's edge telling a crowd of people to stand six feet apart when a man pushes the ranger into the water and falls in himself.
Police arrested Brandon Hicks, 25, on Thursday with attempted assault on a public service worker and damage of city property, including the ranger's radio. He was released from Travis County Jail on Friday on a personal recognizance bond. It is not clear if he has a lawyer.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said it was "saddened" by the incident.
"Our rangers continue to engage residents on the proper use of park facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic," Kimberly McNeeley, Austin parks & recreation department director, said in a statement. "We ask that the public treat Rangers with the same respect they wish to be shown to themselves. Public support is essential for Austin to meet the challenges of this pandemic."
The statement noted that rangers are not law enforcement officers but are essential workers "who've been on the front-line of the city's response to COVID-19" and educate visitors on the operational changes at parks.
The Austin parks department advises parkgoers to stay six feet away from strangers and to wear a face-covering if not exercising.
The city of Austin's stay-home order is in effect through Friday. Under the city's order, anyone engaging in outdoor activity must maintain at least six feet of social distancing.