One of the co-founders of a San Diego nonprofit group that has recently made worldwide headlines was being treated at a local hospital on Saturday after he was taken into custody Thursday when witnesses saw him masturbating in public and darting into traffic in Pacific Beach, according to San Diego police.
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Witnesses told the San Diego Police Department they saw a man, later identified as 33-year-old Jason Russell, walking back and forth in his underwear and talking to himself near Ingraham Street and Riviera Road shortly before 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
A witness told police a man believed to be Russell's father-in-law approached him, but Russell became agitated, removed his underwear and then proceeded to masturbate. He then began running into traffic, the witness said.
A construction worker who was only identified as David recorded cell phone video of the incident and said he could not believe what he was seeing.
"I thought he was just high on something," he said. "I thought he was a druggie or something."
Several bystanders held Russell down until police arrived, 10News learned.
10News' Michael Chen reported police did not arrest Russell but took him into custody for medical reasons. He is not expected to face charges.
Russell is a co-founder of the group Invisible Children and the filmmaker credited for the "Kony 2012" video that was released online in the last few weeks and has since gone viral.
The "Kony 2012" video, part of a campaign to stop Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, has been viewed more than 100 million times, according to Internet analysts.
Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, issued the following statement regarding Russell:
"Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time."
Russell's wife, Danica Russell, released the following statement to U-T San Diego, which reads in part: "Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn't caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration."
She also gave some insight into what might have pushed her husband over the edge.
"While that attention was great for raising awareness
many of the attacks against [the film] were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard," she said in the statement.
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