Update: Good Samaritans speak out about rescue

Fellow ECU student and friend attacked in downtown Greenville

POSTED: 6:57 PM Sep 22 2013   UPDATED: 7:20 PM Sep 24 2013
hollingsworth,jacob
GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

The four ECU students who helped a fellow student and friend get away from her attacker spoke to NewsChannel 12 about their heroic actions.

Allen Elmore, Anthony Turner, James Gronwoldt and Trey Brenner said they were just in the right place at the right time.

"We're not heroes just perfect timing I guess," Gronwoldt said.

21-year-old Rachel Cooper told police she was walking home from downtown on East 3rd Street early Sunday morning when a man came out of nowhere and attacked her with a knife.

“I ended up seeing this fight in the distance and I hit a light jog to go see what was going on. And I actually see it's a young lady and this larger male attacking her,” Elmore said.

That’s when Elmore and his friends decided to take action.

“I just pulled back and hit him in the face. He gets the stumble. My friend, Anthony, ends up coming up and putting him on the ground. We end up disarming him and making sure he couldn't get that knife out again. He kept fighting for it,” Elmore said.

“We had to do what we had to do to make sure he didn't get that blade. And Rachel was pretty much screaming bloody murder …She was scared. She wanted to make sure he didn't do any more damage,” Turner said.

The suspect, 23-year-old Jacob Hollingsworth, an active duty U.S. Airman, was taken into custody and charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He made his first appearance in court Tuesday morning.

The Good Samaritans said they are just thankful they were there to help out.

When asked if they would do it again, Gronwoldt replied, “100% definitely.”

However, for Cooper, her friends’ heroic actions go above and beyond the call of duty.

“She said 'You guys have no idea how I could ever repay you. You know, that was my life [with the] perfect timing [and] perfect situation. I owe you one,’” Turner said.

When asked if the men were glad they were walking home on that road that morning, Breeden replied, “Yeah.”

He said, “She’s actually a pretty good friend of ours so I hope anyone would do that even if you didn't know them. It was better that we knew her and definitely did something about it and hopefully helped save her life,” Breeden said.

NewsChannel 12 also sat down with Rachel Cooper to see how she is doing. She appeared to be doing well, but remains in pain. She had to get several stitches in the back of her head. However, despite everything, she plans to return to school on Wednesday.

Hollingsworth remains in the Pitt County Detention Center under a $200,000 bond.

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The suspect is now in jail in connection with a weekend knife attack against an ECU student.

Jacob Hollingsworth, a U.S. Air Force service member, was released from Vidant Medical Center Monday and was later jailed in Pitt County.

Hollingsworth's 23rd birthday was Saturday night, the same night the attack happened, authorities said.

His bond is set at $200,000, records show.

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A female ECU student battled for her life Sunday after a U.S. Air Force service member attacked her with a knife and tried to kill her, according to Greenville Police.

"He tried to stab me over, and over, and over again," the victim, Rachel Cooper, said.

Cooper, 21, was walking home along E. 4th St. at 2:20 a.m. Sunday when the attacker "grabbed me and tried to bring me behind [a] truck," she said.

"He tried to slit my throat," Cooper said.

"I kept dodging him and fighting him off."

Police identified the attacker as 23-year-old Jacob Hollingsworth, who is an active-duty airman based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which is near Goldsboro.  Hollingsworth used a pocked knife during the attack, police said.

Investigators said evidence shows that the suspect and victim do not know each other.

Cooper was walking home alone.

"[I asked him], 'Why are you doing this to me, why are you trying to kill me?'" Cooper said.

"He said, 'I don't know, I don't know,'" Cooper told NewsChannel 12.

The ECU junior continued to fight for her life.

"I wasn't going to be a victim," she said.

Four of Cooper's friends approached the area and, seeing her struggle, fought Hollingsworth, she said.

The airman, originally from Westminster, S.C., was injured during that fight and was hospitalized at Vidant Medical Center.  He was released Monday and arrested.

Cooper was treated and released from the hospital.

Jenny Crosson lives across the street from where the attack happened.

"It's just kinda scary because we're out here all the time just hanging out on our porch, playing with the dog and anytime at night something like that could happen. And it's scary that we have to worry about that," she said.

Hollingsworth is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the incident.

"We set high standards for our people and will not tolerate airmen who fall short of those standards ...We send our sympathies to the victim and will provide whatever support we can to her and her family."

Cooper said she plans to return to school on Wednesday. Until then, she will continue recovering from what happened to her.