Texas park ranger pushed into lake while telling group to social distance

AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - A 25-year-old man accused of shoving a Texas park ranger into a lake while he was explaining the need for social distancing as the state reopens from the coronavirus pandemic says he is embarrassed by his actions.

Ranger Cassidy Stillwell can be seen in video of the Thursday incident talking to a crowd of people at Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park in Austin, Texas. He was telling them to disperse because they were not maintaining a distance of 6 feet from each other.

They were also allegedly drinking and smoking illegally on the dock.

A swimsuit-clad man, later identified as 25-year-old Brandon Hicks, interrupts, pushing Stillwell into the shallow lake behind him. Stillwell pulled the suspect into the water with him, but the man fled the scene.

The officer who submitted the arrest affidavit said Stillwell could have hit his head on the dock as he was falling “and render himself unconscious in at least 3 feet of water where he could have drowned to death,” CNN reports.

Hicks now faces an attempted assault on a public servant charge. If convicted, he could be sentenced up to two years in jail. His lawyer, Mark Hull, says he does not yet know how Hicks will plead, but he told CNN he looks forward to telling his client’s side of the story.

"He is embarrassed about his actions and has the utmost respect for law enforcement, particularly during these unprecedented times," said Hull in a statement.

Hicks’ next court date is June 19.

Rangers in Austin are now under guidance to approach groups in teams of two.

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