Dallas police increase patrols along Katy Trail after 3 weekend robberies

UPDATE: Dallas police believe the robberies are related to 11 similar robberies committed by the same people in the past. Four of them occurred near Katy Trail based on crime analysis. Below is the description of the two men:

  • The first suspect is described as a black male, approximately 20 to 30 years old.  He is 5’8 – 6’2 tall and weighs 150-160 pounds.  He has been armed with a blue steel semi-automatic handgun.
  • The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 20 to 22 years old.  His is 5’8 -5’10 tall and weighs approximately 160 pounds.  He may have a gold tooth and moles near his eyes.  He has been armed with a silver colored semi-automatic handgun.
  • The suspect vehicle is gray/silver 4-door sedan.  The vehicle may be a Chrysler or Chevy Impala.

A man walking along Katy Trail near Fitzhugh Avenue. (Michael Stephens/Dallas Voice)

Dallas police are increasing patrols along the Katy Trail after three people were robbed at gunpoint in the area over the weekend.

Lt. Scott Walton sent out a statement Monday morning saying added patrols including more bicycle officers have been assigned to surrounding locations, and members of the Violent Crime Task Force will be in the area.

The first incident was reported on Saturday, when a 25-year-old man said he was approached by two males in a silver sedan around 11:30 p.m. in the 3700 block of Travis Street. The man was punched and threatened with a gun that was reportedly in one of the suspect’s jacket, according to the police report.

The victim was placed in a chokehold until he handed over his iPhone, credit cards and a small amount of cash in his possession before the suspects entered the backseat of the sedan and left.

A 28-year-old woman was held up at gunpoint in the early morning hours Sunday. She was robbed around 1:40 a.m. while leaving the Katy Trail Ice House in the 3100 block of Routh Street. The suspects escaped with her purse, iPhone and wallet.

Around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, a 34-year-old man was running on the trial when two black men described as approximately 25 years old approached him after entering through the gate at Blackburn Street, according to the report.

The suspects “sprinted” to catch up to the victim and pointed a pistol at his head until he handed over his iPhone. They left after making him lay down in the gravel.

In the police report, the man described his attackers as wearing all black. One had short hair, a gold tooth and possible moles near his eyes. The other was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with black shorts and had a his hair styled in an “afro.”

Lin Wang, president of LGBT running club Front Runners Dallas, said the about 10 to15 people meet at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays for a group run. He sent out an email Sunday warning the group that if they run outside of the group run, they should run with someone else for safety.

The robberies on and near the trial will not affect the Saturday morning run, he said.

“The good thing is we always do a group run so we seldom run alone,” he said. “Besides that, what can we do? This is the trail we use because of the location and available parking.”

Wang, who lives near the trail, said he runs six days a week and fears he could be a target, especially for possible violence because he does not bring anything of value with him. He runs around 6:30 a.m. but got a late start Sunday, he said.

He cautioned runners to not bring any money or phones in addition to running in groups and watching for suspicious people on the trail. He said many runners use their iPhones because of a popular speed-tracking app, but said for serious runners to instead use a running watch.

—  Anna Waugh

Forum tackling black LGBT violence after NE Dallas hate crime gets positive response

Pastor Alex Byrd, left, Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, center, and Lt. Don Ham with Dallas police respond to questions at a LGBT safety forum at the United Black Ellument March 22. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Members of the black LGBT community voiced concerns about violence and police support at Thursday night’s forum.

The community hall-style meeting was at the United Black Ellument building in Deep Ellum in response to the March 13 northeast Dallas hate crime on Audelia Road and Forest Lane.

While police stressed the importance of reporting crimes and remaining active in neighborhood crime watches to specifically address their concerns within their community, those who attended mentioned the need for police to reach out to organizations.

U-BE program director Ruben Ramirez said the attendance of about 30 people was a positive showing despite the forum’s cancellation last minute on Monday due a power outage from weather conditions.

Ramirez said the most important thing that came from the community was the visibility of the African-American LGBT community and their communication and expectations with Dallas police, calling it “a great start to a community discussion that was long overdue.”

Senior Pastor at the Living Faith Covenant Church Alex Byrd led the forum’s discussion, which he said was “part of a greater conversation about violence against people just for being who they are.”

“These conversations are important, I think, for us to talk about it in our context and then to broaden that scope into the context of what’s happening in our various communities,” Byrd said.

Action steps were discussed at the end of the meeting to bring more awareness to the community about active black LGBT organizations by printing cards and distributing them, as well as becoming active in police diversity training.

“I think the conversation was very fluid and was definitely relevant to what’s going on in the community,” Ramirez said. “The community spoke and I believe the Dallas Police Department was able to address many of the issues.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the DPD, said she thought the meeting went well because she brought police officers with her, so the group could see first-hand that more police are comfortable discussing LGBT issues and concerns.

After the meeting, she said many participants offered to volunteer to help with police training and expressed interest working with the LGBT task force. However, she said there still needs to be representation on crime watches so concerns are addressed directly to LGBT members’ communities.

Ramirez said other forums are likely to occur in the next couple of months after the action steps are worked out and greater involvement from the community is garnered.

—  Anna Waugh

Man charged with DWI after passing out at wheel, dragging firefighter who woke him in Oak Lawn

Aaron Scott Jenkins

Dallas police arrested a man early Tuesday morning after he allegedly dragged a firefighter with his vehicle after a scuffle near the Cedar Springs strip in Oak Lawn.

Aaron Scott Jenkins, 27, was arrested shortly after wrestling with 35-year-old Jesse Munoz, who was returning from a call with Dallas Fire-Rescue when he stopped behind a 2006 silver Mazda four-door car in the 3000 block of Douglas Avenue around 2:15 a.m., according to a Dallas police report.

When the light turned green, Munoz noticed the man driving the car in front of him was unconscious.

He tried to wake up the man before opening the driver’s side door, placing the vehicle in neutral and putting the parking brake on.

The man then woke up and told Munoz not to call police for help, but Munoz stated that he was going to call police, the report states. The man closed the door and began to wrestle with Munoz before putting his car in drive — and starting to drive off while still wresting with Munoz.

Munoz told police he was dragged for a few seconds before the man released him, scraping his arm on the man’s car. He declined medical treatment.

Police were dispatched at 2:30 a.m. and arrested Jenkins shortly after, a spokeswoman with the Dallas Police Department said. While the police report lists the offense as an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Jenkins was arrested for driving while intoxicated because Munoz’s injuries were only minor, she said.

Jenkins has since been released from the Dallas County Jail, according to jail records.

—  Anna Waugh

Another pedestrian hit on Cedar Springs

For the third time in six weeks, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on the Cedar Springs strip over the weekend.

This time, the victim reportedly is a 10-year-old girl, but her injuries aren’t believed to be life-threatening.

Dallas police said today they could provide few additional details about the accident. No offense report was generated since the driver of the vehicle stopped at the scene.

According to 911 call records, the incident was reported at 2:35 p.m. on Saturday and took place at 4100 Cedar Springs Road.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said the unidentified victim was transported to Children’s Medical Center.

“From what I can tell by the notes on the call sheet, the child had non-life threatening injuries, but may have had possible broken bones, but it does not say which bones,” Janse said.

Dallas Voice is working to obtain an accident report from DPD’s Open Records Division.

Unconfirmed eyewitness accounts forwarded to the newspaper indicate the victim is a 10-year-old girl who had just exited a school bus from a field trip and was struck by a pickup truck.

Two pedestrians were killed last month on the Cedar Springs strip in accidents involving hit-and-run drivers. Wayne Priest, 55, died after being struck Nov. 3 near Cedar Springs and Reagan Street. Edward Lee King, 61, was hit Nov. 25 near Cedar Springs and Knight Street.

In response to the deadly accidents — the first in recent memory on the strip — Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt has asked city staff to look at ways to make the area safer for pedestrians.

 

—  John Wright

Investigation continues into 2nd fatal hit-and-run on Cedar Springs

LGBT liaison officer says police have ‘good information’ from witnesses; Hunt says efforts to improve safety ‘must be expedited’

HUNT.ANGELA

ANGELA HUNT

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Dallas police are continuing their investigation this week into the Nov. 25 hit-and-run on Cedar Springs Road that claimed the life of Edward Lee King, 61.

LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin said police reports indicate King was crossing from the west side to the east side, in the middle of the 4100 block of Cedar Springs, near the Knight Street intersection, around 10:30 p.m., when he was struck by a dark-colored SUV traveling south.

The vehicle, described by witnesses as possibly a Land Rover or a Range Rover with wraparound taillights, sped off without stopping and turned east on Throckmorton Street.

Martin said police have “some pretty good information” from witnesses and hope to locate the driver of the vehicle soon.

King, known to family and friends as Joe, worked part time at Amico Pizza, located on Cedar Springs near the site of the accident. He was the second person to be killed within a three-block area of Cedar Springs in November.

Wayne Priest, 55, was killed Nov. 3 in a hit-and-run near the intersection of Cedar Springs and Reagan Street.

Martin said that the two incidents in November were the second and third traffic incidents involving pedestrians between the 3800 block and the 4200 block of Cedar Springs this year. The first occurred in January, but Martin said the pedestrian in that incident was not seriously injured, according to reports she had seen.

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose District 14 lines the east side of Cedar Springs Road where both fatalities occurred, said this week that city officials continue to search for ways to improve safety in the high-traffic entertainment district.

Following Priest’s death early in the month, Hunt told Dallas Voice she had asked city officials to “look into exactly what happened and to make recommendations about how we can move forward in making the area safer.”

This week, following King’s death, Hunt said those efforts “have to be expedited. This is obviously a situation that needs immediate attention.”

She said the city is looking at other cities to see how they have addressed the issue of pedestrian safety in similar areas.

“There are a range of issues involved,” Hunt said. “I am no expert. But we have to find an expedited and thoughtful solution.”
Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2 on the west side of Cedar Springs, did not return calls this week seeking comment.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

UPDATE: DPD releases photos of suspect vehicle in latest hit-and-run fatality

Dallas Police this afternoon released photos, above, of the vehicle involved in a fatal hit-and-run at about 10:30 p.m. Friday night, Nov. 25, on Cedar Springs.

The statement released this afternoon said that the victim was in the crosswalk in the intersection of Cedar Springs Avenue and Knight Street when the accident occurred. The man was taken by ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:53 p.m. LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin said there are two crosswalks at the Knight/Cedar Springs, one is marked and one is not. She said the victim was in the unmarked crosswalk.

Photos of the suspect vehicle, taken from a camera at a nearby business, are dark, low-resolution, grainy images. But police said witnesses described the vehicle as dark colored, possibly a Land Rover or Range Rover SUV, with wraparound tail lights. After striking the victim, the car, which was in the southbound lane, sped away and turned left, or east, on Throckmorton Street.

Although the victim’s last name was included in police reports available to the public, in the statement released this afternoon officials said the man is not being identified because relatives have not yet been notified of his death.

Police ask that anyone with any information about the incident or the whereabouts of the vehicle in the photos contact detectives in the vehicles crimes department at 214-670-5817.

This was the 78th traffic fatality investigated by the Dallas Police Department this year, according to the statement. It is the second hit-and-run fatality on Cedar Springs this month. In the first, Wayne Priest, 55, was crossing Cedar Springs at Reagan on Nov. 3, when he was hit by a driver who then drove away. Priest was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he died later that same night.

The suspect vehicle in that incident was a maroon, four-door vehicle. Police have no suspects in that incident.

—  admin

Gay couple shot near downtown apartment

Police say investigation is ongoing but decline to discuss details

David-Zaragoza-Travis-Vanderlaan

David-Zaragoza, left, and Travis-Vanderlaan, right

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

David Zaragoza and Travis Vanderlaan were shot during a robbery near their Dallas Farmer’s Market-area apartment at about 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18.

One of the victims was shot in the head and the other in the neck. Both are improving and expected to survive.

Two suspects were taken into custody soon after the incident.

According to friends, Zaragoza and Vanderlaan are a couple. The two live at the Camden Farmer’s Market apartments in Downtown Dallas.

Police are releasing very little information about the shootings or the arrests.

“We don’t want to jeopardize the investigation,” said LGBT police liaison Laura Martin.

The names of the suspects arrested are being withheld by police, Martin said. Although she said that was unusual, she said it was because of the ongoing investigation.

She could not confirm if police are looking for additional suspects.

According to Dallas County jail records, however, one of the people taken into custody is Kyle Bibbs, 31, of Carrollton. He is being held in Lew

Sterrett on $100,000 bond for two counts of aggravated robbery.

Police would give no details about the robbery beyond what went into the police reports.

“The complainant was shot during the course of an aggravated robbery,” said the police report. “Complainant was shot twice and robbed.”

The report also indicates that a blue Puma messenger bag containing $3,500 was taken during the robbery but recovered, apparently by police when they arrested the suspects.

Records from 9-1-1 indicate Vanderlaan called for help at 2:46 p.m. on Friday, reporting it as a shooting and robbery. Police were dispatched at 2:47 p.m.

Bibbs’ time of arrest is also listed as 2:47 p.m.

Bibbs has had several prior charges. One case was no billed by the grand jury. One was dismissed. In February, he agreed to plead guilty on a possession of marijuana charge. Dallas County records indicate he had probation revoked for possession of marijuana and possession of a prohibited weapon.

The incident is not being investigated as a random shooting.

Zaragoza is listed on police records making two calls to 9-1-1 earlier this year. No details appear on the reports but the signal codes indicate that one was to report a major disturbance and the other a burglary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Occupy Dallas in 90 seconds

So Rich Lopez and I literally took a swing past the Occupy Dallas demonstration in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Pearl Street during the lunch hour, and below is what we saw.

It starts off kinda slow, with us sitting at a red light on the Woodall Rodgers service road, and a lone Ron Paul supporter shouting through a megaphone in our direction. (Talk about getting co-opted!!!)

But hang in there because things get pretty intense as we make the turn onto Pearl and a Dallas police officer, noticing Rich with the Flip camera in the passenger seat, yells, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”

As you can see, there was a fairly solid line of demonstrators behind the barricades facing Pearl for an entire block, and when we complied with their demands to blow the horn, there was quite a response.

Consider Dallas occupied.

—  John Wright

Murder suspect captured after Oak Lawn robbery

William Langrum

A suspect who was captured after committing an aggravated robbery in Oak Lawn last week is now charged with capital murder in the stabbing death of a Lake Highlands woman, according to Dallas police.

William Langrum, 27, was arrested Sept. 21 following a chase that began in the 2800 block of Douglas Avenue, when undercover officers observed Langrum and another suspect steal a bag of clothes from a victim at knifepoint. After eluding officers in their vehicle and on foot, Langrum and his accomplice, 18-year-old Jeremy Francis, were apprehended in the 7100 block of Lemmon Avenue.

Police say evidence recovered at the scene of the Douglas Avenue robbery linked Langrum to the murder of Shearl Bennett, who’d been fatally stabbed outside her Lake Highlands home about an hour before. Bennett was returning home from church at about 10:45 p.m. Sept. 21 when she was stabbed outside her car in the 9800 block of Royal Lane.

On Monday, detectives charged Langrum with capital murder in Bennett’s death. Both Langrum and Bennett also face charges of aggravated robbery and evading arrest in connection with the Douglas Avenue robbery.

“It was a good catch over in Oak Lawn,” said Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison officer. “We’ve had officers over there on special assignment a lot because we’ve been having issues with robberies.”

—  John Wright

Online revenge can now mean felony conviction

Chad West and Laura Martin

Local officials stepping up enforcement of new Internet harassment law targeting those who harass, impersonate others online

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas police and the Dallas County District Attorney’s office have begin stepping up enforcement of a 2009 Internet harassment law that makes it a felony to impersonate, imitate or otherwise harass others in e-mails, instant messaging programs and commercial social networking sites.

And some gay men who use online dating and social media sites are getting caught in the crosshairs.

“Word is getting out about the law,” Dallas LGBT police liaison Laura Martin said, adding that she’s spoken to a number of people who have been harassed with phone calls, Internet posts and fake Facebook pages.

“It usually happens when a relationship ends,” Martin said, “[when] someone is seeking revenge.”

She said that usually the person filing the complaint just wants the harassment to stop. And when she’s made calls to the person, Martin said, it usually does stop.

But with the new Texas Penal Code 33.07, those using such sites to harass someone could be charged with a felony.

Since the beginning of July, criminal defense attorney Chad West said he has signed four new clients charged under the law. Three of them are gay.

The cases are varied. One involves harassment through a Facebook page; another is a “text message situation,” West said.

West said one of his clients had been dating a closeted man for years. When the closeted man broke off the relationship, the two remained in touch for awhile, but then the closeted man wanted to cut off all communication.

West said his client told him his feelings had been hurt by his ex’s actions and then “one night he did something stupid.”

On Craigslist, the client posted his ex’s first name, last initial and cell phone number with a picture of someone else. Within minutes the ex began receiving calls.

After talking to one of the callers, the victim found the page on Craigslist, printed it off and filed a complaint with the police who tracked the IP address.

West’s client, with nothing prior on his record other than speeding tickets, was arrested and charged with a third degree felony. If convicted, he faces two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In another case, one man was impersonating his boyfriend online. Using the victim’s passwords, he signed onto dating sites such as Manhunt to find out if the victim was cheating on him.

Cheating is not a crime. Impersonating someone else online in Texas is. And that man has now been charged with a felony.

Manhunt does what it can to prevent that sort of situation, Manhunt CEO Adam Segel said. A button on profiles allows a member to report fake or malicious profiles.

“Whenever Manhunt receives reports of harassment between users, we investigate to the best of our ability and take whatever steps are necessary to rectify the situation,” Segel said.

“This may include suspension or deletion of the offending user’s account,” he explained.

Segel said that Manhunt always cooperates with the police once officers have obtained a subpoena, but those instances are rare. “Fortunately this isn’t something we hear about very often,” he said.

West has spoken to the victims in all of the cases he represents. He said that all of them just want this to go away and that none seem interested in appearing in court to testify about intimate details of their lives.

And that’s the best hope West’s clients have.

Defending the charge is difficult when police have hard computer evidence of where the harassment originated and when a victim is willing to testify, West said.

The Craigslist case is furthest along and may be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor, but that still carries the possibility of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Probation or deferred adjudication are possibilities as well. Even if dismissed, the legal fees can mount quickly.

West said one of the victims he spoke to isn’t interested in putting his ex in jail but wants him to get counseling. A judge could set that as a condition of the probation or deferred adjudication.

Katherine Robinson is an assistant Dallas district attorney who prosecutes Internet crimes. She said that her office looks at cases like these very carefully, but because the law is still new, she hasn’t seen any cases come to trial.

Robinson said the Texas law was prompted by a 2006 cyber-bullying case in Missouri.

Megan Meier, 13, took her own life after being told online that the world would be better off without her by “Josh,” a boy who friended her on MySpace.

“Josh” turned out to be Lori Drew, an adult woman. Megan was one of her daughter’s classmates.

However, Drew had not violated any criminal law at the time. She was charged and acquitted of violating the terms and conditions of MySpace under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Robinson said that after that case, legislatures started enacting stricter Internet harassment laws.

“That case hit home how devastating it can be,” Robinson said.

Assistant District Attorney Rick Watson has handled two cases under the Internet harassment law.

“I talk to the victim, balance what they want and make sure the public is safe,” he said.

In one case, a high school student created a Facebook page with another student’s information and made threatening remarks.

The student received four years probation but only after a psych evaluation to make sure he was not a danger.

Watson said the student thought he was pulling a prank, and had no idea he would be charged with a felony.

Watson said that although charges may be reduced, they’re not likely to be dismissed.

West warned that although these cases may eventually be pled to misdemeanors, the arrest and associated costs can be enormous. He said that the potential is a felony conviction and with all the attention placed on bullying last fall, Internet harassment is being taken seriously by law enforcement in Dallas.

And Dallas County is not the only place police are pursuing these cases. Of West’s four clients, only two are in Dallas. One is in Denton and another is in Collin County.

____________

TEXAS PENAL CODE

Sec. 33.07.  ONLINE HARASSMENT.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person uses the name or persona of another person to create a web page on or to post one or more messages on a commercial social networking site:

(1) Without obtaining the other person’s consent; and

(2) With the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person sends an electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person:

(1) without obtaining the other person’s consent;

(2) with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and

(3) with the intent to harm or defraud any person.

(c) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by emergency personnel.

(d) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor is any of the following entities or that the actor’s conduct consisted solely of action taken as an employee of any of the following entities:

(1) a commercial social networking site;

(2) an Internet service provider;

(3) an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230;

(4) a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 51.002, Utilities Code; or

(5) a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code.

(f) In this section:

(1) “Commercial social networking site” means any business, organization, or other similar entity operating a website that permits persons to become registered users for the purpose of establishing personal relationships with other users through direct or real-time communication with other users or the creation of web pages or profiles available to the public or to other users. The term does not include an electronic mail program or a message board program.

(2) “Identifying information” has the meaning assigned by Section 32.51.

—  John Wright