Kennewick officer stops rape attempt outside city hall

KENNEWICK, Wash -- Police say a woman was nearly raped outside Kennewick City Hall when a homeless man attacked her. Officers tell KEPR the man said, "This is where I am going to (expletive) you."

Commander Scott Child was peering out his office window Wednesday morning and saw something that just didn't look right. As a woman arrived for work, a man approached her out of nowhere. Words were exchanged. Then threats. Then telltale body language.

"It was that sick feeling that it wasn't right. Something is about to happen," explained Commander Child.

What this veteran cop says he witnessed was an attempted rape, directly across from the police station in the parking lot of Kennewick City Hall. Commander Child didn't blink an eye, "Adrenaline instantly kicked in. I was sprinting as fast as I could. I clearly knew something bad was happening."

It's hard to fathom, when precious seconds count, that between you and the person who needs your help is a long hallway, stairs, doors and the biggest obstacle: uncertainty.

Cmdr. Child explained, "I was worried about her. I couldn't see her. My fear was she was okay until I got there."

He darted to the parking lot with the help of Commander Craig Littrell and Sergeant Mark Weber. In the nick of time, the victim had slipped through the doors of Kennewick City Hall. She was calling 911 and she was not hurt.

With a mental image of the suspect, Commanders Child, Littrell and Sergeant Weber fanned out near Keewaydin Park. An hour later, they arrested Brandon Hankle, 30, a homeless man with a lengthy criminal record. Hankle is behind bars on felony attempt rape charges. Police think he's the same person who nearly raped a woman in a supermarket parking lot a few days ago. That rape attempt was also stopped but police hadn't been able to track Hankle down. Until the officers helped solve a crime right outside the station.

Cmdr. Child says, "Most people have a God-given instinct that when something is not right... It doesn't feel right... Thank goodness it turned out the way it did."