Making up a winning team

Frank Holland

Pekers gay bar sponsoring team of Dallas Police officers in softball league

DRACONIS VON TRAPP | Intern
Intern@dallasvoice.com

When most people in Dallas think of nightclubs sponsoring a softball team, they think of the Pegasus Slowpitch Softball Association. But the owner of the gay bar Pekers, located on Oak Lawn Avenue, this year broke that mold by sponsoring a team of Dallas police officers competing in softball league that plays in Garland.

Frank Holland, owner of Pekers, said the partnership started after some of the officers responded to a call in his bar’s parking lot. The extreme heat of this year’s North Texas summer was taking its toll on the officers, so Holland’s bar offer them water and food.

Not long afterward, “They actually came in and asked us if we would sponsor them,” Holland explained. “They remembered how nice [the people at] Pekers were, and they loved the logo.”

Holland also said the bar has gotten very good response from its patrons, who think it’s great that Pekers is sponsoring the officers’ team.

“Most of the gay bars have a really good rapport [with the Dallas Police],” Holland said. “We think it’s a good thing for the community because it shows the police are not as homophobic as people think they are.”

And the officers are happy with the arrangement, too.

Officer Brian Nolff, one of the softball team members, said that he and his fellow officers worked in the Oak Lawn area and had been looking around at different sponsorship opportunities. The gayborhood had been kind to them in the past, Nolff said, so they figured Pekers’ sponsorship of the team would be a good connection for them.

“It’s been real positive as far as the officers [and the community] are concerned,” Nolff said.

Nolff said it doesn’t matter where the sponsorship comes from, as long as the team supported. The prospect of having a gay bar as a sponsor didn’t deter any of the team members, he said, adding that they “haven’t had an issue with it yet.”

Pekers will be paying for the team’s uniforms and other equipment, and club staff and patrons plan to caravan out to Garland to watch the games. The games will be held on Monday nights at Audubon Park at 7 p.m.

—  John Wright

Two men arrested in 2010 shooting

Tull recognized attackers when TV news broadcast their photos following their arrests for a June murder in Oak Cliff

Doug Tull
Doug Tull

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

As Doug Tull recovers from what he hopes will be the final surgery he will have to endure after being shot in a robbery on an Oak Lawn street on Aug. 30, 2010, he said he is happy to know that the men who attacked him have finally been apprehended.

Last month, LaMarcus Mathis, 19, Don Williams, 17, and Robert Robertson, 24, were arrested for the murder of South Dallas convenience store owner Jin Ha.

Tull said he recognized Mathis as the man who shot him when he saw the suspect’s photo on television.

“I was watching the news,” he said of how he learned the three had been arrested. “It sent chills down my spine.”

Tull said that Williams is the person who participated in beating him during the attack last year, but he is not sure if Robertson was the getaway driver.

He said there was no doubt in his mind that Mathis and Robertson are the same two men who attacked him a year ago, and that he has worried ever since that they would continue attacking until someone was killed.

“I knew they’d do it again,” Tull said.

Tull also said that he knew the night he was shot that the suspects had committed such crimes before.

“They acted too experienced,” he said. “They knew exactly what they were doing.”

On Aug. 30, Tull was walking from his apartment on Throckmorton Street to Pekers, a bar on Oak Lawn Avenue. Two men stopped him on Brown Street demanding money. They took his wallet and beat him.
When Tull sprayed his attackers with mace, Mathis shot him then made his escape by running to a car driven by a third man, who had pulled into a nearby bank drive-through lane

Tull was able to make it to Pekers about a block away. Someone in a nearby apartment who saw the incident happen had already called police. Ron Nelson and Frank Holland, owners of Pekers, were at the bar, and as soon as they realized Tull was bleeding, Nelson called 9-1-1.

Tull was rushed by ambulance to Parkland Hospital where he had emergency surgery. He remained in the hospital almost six weeks and has since had two subsequent operations.

The bullet splintered his tailbone and Tull developed osteomyelitis, a bacterial bone infection from which he spent eight months at home recovering.

During that time, Tull said he heard little from Dallas police, who had no leads in the shooting. Police used a warrant to get the surveillance tapes from the nearby bank, but the tape did not clearly identify the car and the license plate on the car was unreadable.

LaMarcus Mathis, left, and Don Williams
LaMarcus Mathis, left, and Don Williams

A check from Tull’s wallet was found in the parking garage at The Crescent and returned to him by mail with a note. Crescent property managers made surveillance tapes from their property available to police when they learned that the check had been stolen in an armed robbery. But those tapes offered no evidence.

Jin Ha was murdered July 3 in her convenience store, located at the intersection of Illinois and Overton avenues in South Dallas. Robertson, who was driving the car seen in surveillance video, was arrested in Dallas three days later and charged with capital murder.

Robertson then tipped off police that Williams and Mathis had fled to Connecticut.

The two fugitives were arrested July 22 in Bridgeport, Conn., and both were extradited to Texas.

Williams and Mathis are being held in the Dallas County jail, with bail set at $1 million each, and both have been charged with capital murder.

Robertson told police that the two teenagers had been looking for someone to drive them around. A different car was involved in Tull’s shooting.

After Mathis and Williams were captured, Tull saw their pictures on TV news.

“My heart was racing,” he said. “I was so excited.”

Tull tried to contact the detective who investigated his case but didn’t receive a return phone call because that officer was out for knee surgery. Tull then contacted Dallas Voice who put the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin in touch with him.

Martin contacted the detectives working on the Jin Ha case.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, detectives visited Tull at home to have him identify Mathis and Williams as his attackers through pictures. He will be asked to pick them out of a police line up at a later time.

Police will do ballistics tests to link the bullet to Mathis’ gun.

Whether or not the same gun was used, Tull has no doubt about the identity of his attackers.

Aggravated assault will probably be added to the murder charges already pending against the two suspects, and Tull said he looked forward to facing them and testifying against them in court.

Tull will remain home to recover from his final surgery for two months. After taking eight months off from his job at Texas Instruments, he returned to work for just eight weeks before his final operation on July 28.

“My misery is ending,” Tull said, “But theirs is just beginning.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Parade proceeds donation

FOR THE YOUTH  | Officials with Dallas Tavern Guild presents Youth First Texas Development Director Sam Wilkes and Board Chair T.J. Wilson a check for $7,500 representing proceeds from the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade during a recent DTG meeting. Pictured are, front from left, Culley Johnson, Dallas Eagle; Howard Okun, The Brick; Allen Pierce, The Round-Up Saloon; G. Maywald, BJ’s; Wilkes and Wilson, Youth First Texas; Andy Krumm, BJ’s; Jack Adams, Club Wet; Jesse Avalos, BJ’s and Keith Lackie, Klub Wet; back, from left, Matt Louzau, Barbara’s Pavillion; Dan Faust, Kaliente; Mark Frazier, Dallas Eagle; Greg Kilhoffer, Caven Enterprises; Frank Holland, Pekrs; Gary Miller, Round-Up Saloon; Chris Weinfurter, Woody’s.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Oak Lawn shooting victim released from hospital

Doug Tull
Doug Tull

Doug Tull, the gay bar patron who was shot during a robbery a few blocks from his apartment in Oak Lawn in late August, was released from Parkland Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 15 after two surgeries.

“It’s nice to be home but there are a lot of medical things I have to do,” Tull said.

Tull thanked his friend Darwin Kopaska, who has been by his side since the shooting; and Ron Nelson and Frank Holland, owners of Pekers, for saving his life by their quick action.

“I have a home nurse that comes by Monday, Wednesday and Friday to take vitals and all that,” he said.

So far there are no suspects. Photos from a bank surveillance camera of the suspects’ vehicle driving through the parking lot were not clear enough to reveal the license plate number.

“I just hope the police catch those guys so they can’t hurt anybody. Anyway, I’m doing all right and thanks for asking,” Tull said.

And yes, we keep using the same photo of Tull, but we’ll get a new one once Tull is feeling up to it. He preferred this one of him smoking outside at Illusions taken last year to a current one of him looking like crap after surgery.

—  David Taffet

Nightclub hopes to repeat success with fundraiser

Nightclub hopes to repeat success with fundraiser Annual Steve Machart Benefit for AIN raised more than $20,000 for AIDS service organization in ’09

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ON THE AUCTION BLOCK  |  Pekers raised $20,000 for AIDS Interfaith Network last year with the Steve Machart Benefit, and bar owner Frank Holland hopes to surpass that mark this year with auction items that include jewelry donated by Heritage Auction Galleries, a flat-panel plasma TV and more.
ON THE AUCTION BLOCK | Pekers raised $20,000 for AIDS Interfaith Network last year with the Steve Machart Benefit, and bar owner Frank Holland hopes to surpass that mark this year with auction items that include jewelry donated by Heritage Auction Galleries, a flat-panel plasma TV and more.

On Saturday, Sept. 11 Pekers holds its fourth annual Steve Machart Benefit for AIDS Interfaith Network.

Last year, they raised more than $20,000 for the organization. Bar owner Frank Holland said he planned to top that amount this year.

To do that, he has been working with local businesses to donate items for a silent auction. He said the Heritage Auction Galleries has been particularly generous with a variety of jewelry. Among the items donated were two women’s and one man’s diamond rings, a diamond tennis bracelet and jade rings.

“We’ll be raffling a 47-inch flat panel plasma TV,” Holland said. “And we have some beautiful oriental prints from Japan.”

He said DeNovo and Salon 2121 donated facials and haircuts and restaurants including Rafa’s and Breadwinners donated gift certificates.

Among the performers participating are Trixie Lynn, the current Miss Pekers, Reva Dena, popular performer from Friends in Gun Barrel City and Robert Olivas, a runner-up in this year’s Voice of Pride competition.

Holland said AIDS Interfaith Network has been touched by budget cuts more than other AIDS agencies. Since the bar opened three years ago, he estimates that fundraisers at Pekers have collected about $150,000 for the agency that provides transportation services including Care-A-Van service, a meals program and the adult day-care Howie Daire Center.

Holland said he named the annual event after the man who “was my best friend for more than 40 years [and who] died a horrible death from AIDS.”

The silent auction begins at 8 p.m. and the Holland said they would be raising money until midnight.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Shooting victim recovering

Doug Tull ran to Pekers after being shot in the chest and remains in fair condition at Parkland Hospital

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Doug Tull
POINT BLANK | Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull, shown smoking outside Illusions in 2009 in this file photo, remains in fair condition at Parkland Hospital after being shot at point blank range early Monday morning. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

A 49-year-old Oak Lawn resident was shot during a robbery early Monday morning, Aug. 30, when he was walking alone in his neighborhood. Doug Tull is recovering at Parkland Hospital following surgery to repair damage from the gunshot wound to his upper abdomen.

Frank Holland, the owner of the bar Pekers, was in his bar when Tull entered at about 1 a.m.

“He walked in the door and said, ‘Help, I’ve been stabbed,’” Holland said.

He said his business partner Ron Nelson ran behind the bar and called 9-1-1.

Nelson said he thought Tull was kidding until he saw the blood.

“Before he [Nelson] hung up, there were two police cars here,” Holland said. But ambulance response was much slower. Holland caught the entire incident on camera and said it took 6½ minutes for the emergency vehicle to arrive.

A witness who asked not to be identified saw the shooting from his apartment.

“I was sitting out on my porch,” he said. “Doug crossed Shelby and Brown walking toward Oak Lawn.”

He heard the confrontation but was too far to help stop it.

He said he heard Tull yell, “I don’t have any money” and then a shot and called police.

So when Tull arrived at Pekers, the police were already on their way to the area.

Tull said that he was walking toward Oak Lawn Avenue and a car pulled up from behind him. He said it stopped about five feet in front of him. Two young men got out of the car.

“I kept walking. They were pointing at something as if looking at a building,” he said. “I kept walking.”

He said when he realized something was wrong, he tried to run, but the assailants were too close and jumped him.

When they demanded money, Tull said he didn’t have any on him. They knocked him to the ground. One of the attackers went through his pockets, took his wallet and then shot him.

Tull thought he had been stabbed.

“I didn’t hear a gunshot,” he said. “I didn’t see a flash.”

Before they fled, Tull said he managed to pull a canister of mace from his pocket and spray one of the assailants.

Tull said the two attackers ran to the car waiting in the bank parking lot across the street, yelling, “Mace! Mace! Mace!”

Holland said he told the police that what he saw was a round puncture wound in Tull’s abdomen. He said the shooting must have been at point-blank range.

There was confusion at first about where the incident took place. The original police report said the shooting occurred at Shelby and Brown streets.

Tull later told police that he was attacked in front of the barbershop across Brown Street from the American National Bank parking lot.

Police were checking with the bank to see if their cameras recorded the incident and caught the license plate of the car. After the two attackers got out of the car, the driver pulled into the bank’s drive-through lane.

Tull identified the suspects as three black men in their early to mid-20s, driving an older four-door, gray Nissan Altima. They were dressed in white T-shirts and jeans and weighed about 150 pounds each.

After the attackers fled, Tull ran to Pekers less than a block away.

Tull was taken from the bar to Parkland Hospital where he was in intensive care for a day. Although the bullet entered his body directly under his heart, the only damage was to his stomach, liver and large and small intestines.

While operating, doctors were unable to find a bullet. Later x-rays found it lodged in his rectum. They said it may pass out of his body.

“Doctors can’t believe how fast I’m recovering,” Tull said from his hospital bed on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The gunman was aiming down, he explained. The bullet shot at point blank range apparently ricocheted off of Tull’s sternum, which is why it did not exit his body. Although the incision made to repair his internal organs is more than six inches long, Tull was out of bed and walking by Wednesday. His right arm is bruised, he said, because the assailants were bouncing on his arm. He has a cut across his forehead but no other facial injuries.

Frank Holland
Frank Holland

On Wednesday, his friend Darwin Kopaska checked Tull’s mail. The parking garage manager at the Crescent sent Tull a check that one of his cashiers found in the parking lot. Tull confirmed that the check had been folded in his wallet.

Dallas Voice passed that information to police who are checking video at the Crescent parking garage to see if their cameras caught the assailants’ car.

Police detectives and LGBT police liaison Laura Martin are looking into the attack.

Tull said that no anti-gay epithets were shouted during the incident but police are not ruling out the possibility it was a hate crime.

While several other attacks have taken place near the Oak Lawn entertainment district recently, this is the first street shooting in awhile.

In May four men with baseball bats assaulted two men on Throckmorton Street near Congress Avenue. In 2008, Jimmy Lee Dean was beaten in a brutal attack just a block off the main Cedar Springs strip.

On April 16, 2007, Jose Landa was shot to death in a parking lot on Cedar Springs Road after stopping to get cash at the ATM on the street.

Police have warned people not to walk alone citing safety in numbers. However, when Jimmy Lee Dean was attacked, he was walking with Michael Robinson. The attack in May involved a couple walking together, and Jose Landa was with his wife and several friends.

Along with the incident report, police issued a neighborhood warning after the Tull attack. After the May baseball bat attack, police were criticized for not alerting the community sooner.

Apartment complexes in the area have not been as vigilant in passing along the warning. The witness said that management in his complex has remained silent on the attack.

In a separate incident, a jogger found a man unconscious on the jogging trail along Turtle Creek Boulevard early Friday morning, Aug. 27.

At about 7:15 a.m. police were called to assist the injured Oak Lawn man. It was not apparent at the time what happened to Shawn Stumph, nor do police know how long he had been there.

He was found laying unconscious on the trail near Bowen Street. A section of the guardrail along a now-closed section of road is missing above where Stumph was found. The drop to the creek bed below is about 30 feet.

Police are not sure if Stumph fell or was pushed in an attack, but said his wallet was in his pocket when he was found and there was no sign of a struggle. Stumph was rushed to Parkland Hospital and remains in critical condition in intensive care. He has extensive head injuries and is not able to answer police questions.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens