'I thought a woman was getting murdered:' Neighbors intervene during attack in NJ neighborhood

"I mean, the neighbors did a really good job and possibly saved her life," said Deputy Chief Mike Packer.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Neighbors intervene as woman attacked in NJ neighborhood
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Police said the man came up behind the woman, grabbed her and tried to strangle her. Police believe the man and woman did not know each other.

WESTVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A Gloucester County man is in custody after police say he attacked and tried to strangle a woman walking down a street in Westville, New Jersey.

Nicole Rimel was at home on Cedar Avenue around 8:30 p.m. Thursday when she heard screaming.

"I ran to my door because I could hear it outside. She was running right here down the street and the man was chasing her," said Rimel.

Rimel said the woman was knocking at a door for help, so she called 911.

Police said the man came up behind the woman, grabbed her and tried to strangle her. Police believe the man and woman did not know each other.

"We were all like, what is that? The screams, I mean I thought a woman was getting murdered outside my house," said Rimel.

Rimel's husband and several other neighbors went outside, which resulted in a struggle.

Neighbor Sheri Hogan said she tried to intervene and the man struck her in the head.

"I asked him nicely, very calmly. I said, 'What's the matter, hun?' And he slapped me on the head. Flat on the top of my head."

Eventually, the suspect fled on foot.

Police say they responded within minutes and arrested Andre Graig, 43, of Westville, who was charged with aggravated assault, criminal restraint and false imprisonment.

He's locked up in the Salem County Jail.

"I mean, the neighbors did a really good job and possibly saved her life," said Deputy Chief Mike Packer.

While neighbors were relieved to hear about an arrest, the incident is still unnerving.

"It's nice to know that they caught the guy. I just feel sorry for the lady that was attacked," said Crystal McCullough, who lives one block away.

Police say that woman is physically okay, and are still investigating and looking for surveillance video from the area.

Police ask if anyone has had any encounters with Graig in the past to contact them.

Action News was unsuccessful in finding information on an attorney for Graig.