updated 08/15/2013 AT 7:55 PM ET
•originally published 08/16/2013 AT 12:50 PM ET
Engineer Mike Simpson was heading down to the pool in his New Orleans apartment complex on Monday when he heard a loud, high-pitched bellowing from the hall.
“I thought I heard someone calling for help, so I sprinted down there,” Simpson tells PEOPLE. “I pushed the door open and saw a guy bear-hugging someone to his chest.”
NBA player Ryan Anderson had just arrived back at his girlfriend Gia Allemand’s apartment and found her hanging from a metal staircase by the door.
“He said, ‘She hung herself,’ and I looked over and that’s when I saw the rope,” Simpson says.