Police say there's no link between apparent robbery/murder and the Rainbow Lounge

Posted on 01 May 2010 at 5:22pm

An 72-year-old man found beaten to death last night in Fort Worth was inside a vehicle two blocks from the Rainbow Lounge, not in the bar’s parking lot as reported earlier by a TV station, police said Saturday.

Authorities have established no link between the victim, whom they did not identify, and the gay bar on South Jennings. They said the man’s death appeared to be a result of a robbery, and there is no reason to believe it was a hate crime.

According to a press release from the Fort Worth Police Department, officers were summoned to Hemphill and West Cannon at about 9:45 p.m.

A witness directed officers to a parked vehicle in the 500 block of West Cannon. Inside the gray Mazda four-door, police found a 72-year-old male who’d apparently suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

The witness told police he’d observed the victim standing outside the vehicle with a head injury. The victim told the witness he’d been robbed by a black male wearing a white T-Shirt who struck him in the head. The victim was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

In an “editor’s note” at the bottom of today’s press release, the police department slammed WFAA-TV for an earlier report suggesting that the man’s body had been found outside the Rainbow Lounge, and for attempting to link the crime to last June’s raid of the gay bar. Here’s the editor’s note:

” … the Fort Worth Police Department does not appreciate using the June 28th incident that occurred at the Rainbow Lounge as an attention grabber by linking it to this crime or any other incident that occurs within the general area of this business.We ask that you report last night’s horrific crime as it truly is and not in a manner to discredit all the hard work done over the last year. A remarkable amount of progress and effort has been put forth by the City of Fort Worth, the GLBT community, Fairness Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Police Department in order to strengthening our relationships. By linking these two unrelated stories together you are thwarting the efforts of unity.

“WFAA reporter Chris Guillory’s coverage is incomprehensible and unethical. The headline ‘Deadly Beating at Fort Worth’s Rainbow Lounge’ as well as the resulting news article is inaccurate, purposefully misleading, and seems to violate the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. The quote, ‘Police surround the Rainbow Lounge, where a man was found beaten to death in the parking lot late Friday night’ is also inaccurate. The victim was located a block south and a block west of the business, parked roadside against the curb and not in a parking lot.

In fact the Dallas Voice quoted David Mack Henderson as saying, “contrary to the caption on the picture WFAA posted, the police did NOT surround the Rainbow Lounge with flashing lights …’

“Our hope is that this press release serves as notice to media outlets everywhere that we will combat this type of unethical journalism and we will hold news organizations accountable to the code of ethics through the use of the Fort Worth Police Media Portal and the use of social networking sites.”

Anyone with information about Friday’s incident is asked to call the Fort Worth Police Homicide Unit at 817-392-4330 or CrimeStoppers at 817-469-TIPS (8477).

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