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Police crime tapeJohn Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

An Ontario man who had recently moved to Vancouver has been charged with breaking into the home of a woman in an east Vancouver neighbourhood and brutally assaulting her before a passerby heard her screams and tackled the man.

Caleb Heaton, 25, was charged Friday with offences including break-and-enter, robbery, unlawful confinement and sexual assault in connection with Thursday's violent assault in Strathcona, on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. He remains in custody.

The attack took place shortly after noon on Thursday, when a man armed with a weapon entered a home on Hawks Avenue at Union Street and confronted the woman inside. The man, who is not known to the victim, attacked her, tied her up and sexually assaulted her, police said.

The assault was interrupted by a Good Samaritan who heard the woman's screams and entered the home. A struggle ensued, the victim escaped and the situation spilled out on to the street, Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague said. At that point, other passersby intervened.

A witness to the immediate aftermath of the assault, who did not want to be named, said Friday the victim was covered in blood and had two of her fingers cut off, among other injuries.

"I'm trying to wash away those thoughts with pride in the community for stepping up," he said, "living somewhere that people don't ignore such things and they're looking out for each other, and [willing] to step up to right wrongs rather than being passive bystanders."

Police have spoken with the Good Samaritan for evidentiary reasons, but have "also expressed that he did something pretty spectacular," Constable Montague said.

"There is no doubt that he is a hero in this situation, that he saved this woman from worse harm – or being killed."

There is a court-imposed publication ban on the name of the victim and witnesses.

Mr. Heaton has a criminal record in Ontario that includes convictions for theft, break-and-enter, robbery and possession of stolen property. There was a warrant issued for his arrest in that province.

Constable Montague said it appears Mr. Heaton moved out west recently. He has had some interaction with police in Vancouver but it was nothing criminal in nature, Constable Montague said.

"There is no doubt that this was an extremely horrific and terrifying incident for this woman," he said. "Even some of our own officers were shocked and disgusted and troubled by what they saw.

"This is definitely something our officers are not used to seeing."

Neighbourhood residents say the neighbourhood remained on edge going into the weekend.

"Anybody – doesn't matter whether they live in Strathcona or not – would be a bit shaken by it," said Vince Grywacheski, who lives nearby. "You get a knock on the door and that happens? It doesn't matter where it is: It's a reality check for everyone."

A solidarity walk was planned for Friday night in support of the victim. As well, a neighbour has launched an online fundraising campaign to help fund the victim's recovery.