Texas park ranger asking people to comply with social distancing is pushed into lake; suspect arrested

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A Texas park ranger cautioned a group about coronavirus social distancing - only to get pushed into a lake.

A recording of the incident shows the Commons Ford Metropolitan Park ranger asking a group gathered on the docks of Lake Austin to “disperse” because people were not standing six feet apart. The group was unlawfully drinking and smoking in the public park, as well.

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Just after someone tells the ranger “I got you,” a man runs up and pushes the ranger into the water. The man fell in as well, but he managed to climb out first and flee.

Brandon Hicks, 25, was identified by a number of witnesses as the man who pushed the ranger. Hicks was arrested and charged with attempted assault on a public servant – a state felony – and damaging the ranger’s emergency radio, according to court documents seen by FOX 7.

Officials say the "intentional and reckless action" by Hicks could have caused the park ranger to hit his head as he fell, becoming unconscious in water deep enough for him to drown.

Hicks was in jail Friday with bail set at $7,500.

Austin police officer Justin Berry, who arrested Hicks, told the Statesman that people were quick to help the ranger and identify Hicks as the assailant.

“The patrons of the park actually came to the aid of the park ranger,” Berry said. “Several people came up to the ranger and apologized for the guy’s behavior. That’s the Austin we know, and that’s the Austin we love.”

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Gov. Greg Abbott started to reopen Texas over the past week. Public parks are open to the public but only if people maintain social distancing.