DPD: Don’t park at Office Depot

Officials warn club-goers after another violent attack in store’s lot

DARK AND DANGEROUS: Office Depot at 2929 Oak Lawn is shown from Dickason Avenue. The red sign is turned off late at night, making the parking lot darker than in this photo. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

In the wake of another violent robbery in the Office Depot lot on Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas police this week warned club-goers against parking there at night.

Officer Laura Martin, DPD’s liaison officer to the LGBT community, said the lot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave. has long been a trouble spot for crime after hours, primarily because it’s so poorly lit.

In the latest incident, three people who’d been out on the Cedar Springs strip were robbed at gunpoint and carjacked early Sunday, Oct. 23.

According to DPD records, it was at least the fourth aggravated robbery in the Office Depot lot in the last three months — in addition to numerous other offenses such as vehicle burglaries.

“That Office Depot has just been a thorn in our side for several years,” Martin said Wednesday, Oct. 26. “We would prefer that people didn’t park there. I don’t anticipate that that problem is going to go away unless we improve lighting over there significantly. I would just advise people not to park in that parking lot and not to park on that street near the parking lot.”

Martin said undercover officers have been patrolling the area, but the city is powerless to improve lighting in the parking lot itself since it’s on private property. Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, who heads up DPD’s Northwest Division, has been working with city officials to improve street lighting nearby, Martin said. However, light from city fixtures on Dickason Avenue is blocked by trees lining the northeast side of the parking lot.

DPD officials recently met with Office Depot representatives, who said they have no plans to add lights in the parking lot, Martin said. She also noted that Office Depot once towed vehicles from the lot but stopped doing so in the wake of complaints from the community.

“Office Depot is not going to be doing anything differently,” Martin said. “They’re not going to tow cars and they’re not going to increase lighting. They don’t want to tow vehicles because of all the complaints they got when they did tow vehicles, and they’re not going to add lighting because they don’t have the money to add lighting.”

An assistant manager who answered the phone at Office Depot declined to comment. He referred questions to the store manager, whom he said was not available.

Jared Pearce, president of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, called on Office Depot to help address the problem. DSYD’s recent Light Up Oak Lawn safety campaign led to the city installing 45 new lights in the area, but none near Office Depot.

“Good stewards of the community can put lights up themselves,” Pearce said. “Office Depot could do it for a lot cheaper than the city could.”

One of the victims in last week’s robbery said he doesn’t normally park at Office Depot — but did so that night because a friend was driving his car. The 21-year-old and his two friends, all from Tyler, had returned to his vehicle from Station 4 at about 3 a.m. Sunday.

The victim was sitting in the passenger seat, and his two friends were talking in the parking lot. The two suspects, described as black males wearing hooded sweatshirts, pulled up behind them in a white Dodge Avenger. The suspects got out, pointed handguns at his friends and said, “Get on the ground, give me your money.” One of the suspects then got into the victim’s 2010 Toyota and said, “Get out of the car or I’ll blow your head off.”

After the victim got out, the suspect drove off in the victim’s Toyota, while the second suspect drove off in the Dodge.
Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said police later recovered the stolen vehicle with no wheels or tires at an apartment complex in the 1100 block of North St. Augustine Road.

“Detectives are still waiting for physical evidence collected in the recovered vehicle to be analyzed and returned,” Janse said Wednesday.

The victim, meanwhile, was trying to figure out how to get the badly damaged vehicle back to East Texas, where he’s a college student. He said the car, valued at $36,000, was mostly paid for, but his insurance had lapsed two days before the robbery.

“They won’t cover it,” he said. “I’m just out of luck.

“I’m a student so I pretty much live in my car, and I had everything in my trunk,” he added. “Literally, they took my underwear.”

The victim said he normally tries to park directly behind the Cedar Springs nightclubs because his car had previously been burglarized in Oak Lawn. And he echoed Martin’s advisory about the Office Depot lot.

“Even though it might be hard to get a parking spot, keep trying somewhere closer and somewhere where it’s light,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Trio robbed at gunpoint in Office Depot parking lot early Sunday after visiting Cedar Springs

The parking lot of Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue — a popular place for Cedar Springs club-goers to park after hours — has also become a hotspot for criminal activity.

In the latest incident, three people from East Texas were robbed at gunpoint and carjacked early Sunday in the lot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave., near the intersection of Dickason Avenue.

According to police reports, it was at least the fourth aggravated robbery in the Office Depot parking lot in the last three months. Reports show there have also been numerous vehicle break-ins and other offenses reported during the same time period.

“We’ve definitely had a problem at that location,” said Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

In the latest case, the three victims had returned to their vehicle at about 3 a.m. Sunday when the two suspects pulled up behind them in a white Dodge Avenger, according to reports. The suspects, described as two black males wearing hooded sweatshirts, got out, pointed handguns at two of the victims who were standing in the parking lot and said, “Get on the ground, give me your money.”

—  John Wright

Congregation Or Chadash, LGBT synagogue in Chicago, was among targets of Yemeni terror plot

Congregation Or ChadashOr Chadash, Chicago’s predominantly LGBT synagogue, was among those targeted by the Yemeni bombing plot that was uncovered this weekend.

Bombs were wrapped in packages addressed to two Chicago synagogues but were discovered before they were placed on planes headed for the U.S. Explosive material was packed inside toner cartridges.

Or Chadash is one of seven predominantly LGBT synagogues in the U.S. that are members of the Union of Reform Judaism. Dallas’ Congregation Beth El Binah is one of the others. Whenever temples are targeted, LGBT synagogues are warned that they could be “two for the price of one” targets.

Locally, Beth El Binah officials contacted staff at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center where the synagogue meets. They told them they don’t receive unexpected packages at the Center and that if a package arrives for the temple, to call police immediately.

Congregation Beth El Binah President Diane Litke joked that Beth El Binah gets its printer supplies from Office Depot, not Yemen. But she said more seriously that she can’t imagine anyone who works at any synagogue opening an unexpected package from overseas, adding that all synagogues are aware of security concerns.

—  David Taffet

Police identify suspect who’s now charged in 3 recent ATM kidnappings in Oak Lawn, Uptown

Anthony Glenn Davis

Last Friday we told you police had made an arrest in the case of a woman who was kidnapped at gunpoint Sept. 27 on McKinney Avenue in Uptown Dallas and forced to drive to an ATM to withdraw cash.

We’ve also told you about another, similar robbery that occurred the day before in the parking lot of Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue.

Today, after completing lineups with other victims, police released the suspect’s name, and he is 40-year-old Anthony Glenn Davis.

In addition to the robberies on McKinney and Oak Lawn, Davis is charged with a third one Sept. 25 at 4026 Cedar Springs. And as you can see, he looks a little like “Deebo” from Friday.


—  John Wright

Report: Dallas police arrest suspect in 2 recent armed robberies in Oak Lawn, Uptown

Dallas police have arrested a suspect in two recent armed robberies in the Oak Lawn and Uptown areas, according to an e-mail we received late Friday afternoon from Nancy Weinberger, a volunteer with the Oak Lawn crime watch group. We’re still trying to confirm the arrest with Dallas police. Both robberies involved the victim being kidnapped and forced to drive, at gunpoint, to ATMs to withdraw cash. The first incident began late Sunday night at the Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue, and the second occurred Monday at the Katy Trail Animal Hospital on McKinney Avenue. The Dallas Morning News picked up the story Friday morning, two days after we reported it here on Instant Tea. Anyhow, here’s Weinberger’s e-mail:

I have been advised that DPD has made an arrest related to the two recent
robberies…where the people were forced to drive to ATM’s to withdraw $$$$.
One occurred in the Office Depot parking lot about 11 pm Sunday night and
the other occurred about 6:45 am Monday in the 4100 block of McKinney.
There was an article about the incidents in this morning’s newspaper.
Suspect sounded like same person. Arrest made early this am.

Thanks to Chief Aziz and Lt Overstreet for getting me this information as
quickly as possible.

Have a good weekend!

Reminder: This doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.

UPDATE: According to a press release from DPD, the suspect is facing charges related to the McKinney Avenue incident but not necessarily the first incident on Oak Lawn Avenue. The suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, was nabbed on Thursday night after he was spotted leaving the Exxon station at Maple and Oak Lawn. Here’s the full release:

Notable Arrest by DPD

On September 27, 2010, at approximately 6:45 a.m., the suspect carjacked and robbed a complainant at gunpoint at 4151 McKinney Avenue. The suspect drove the complainant to an ATM where the complainant was forced to withdraw money.  The suspect then forced the complainant to drive to Ervay and Grand where the suspect fled on foot.  Investigators processed the crime scene and obtained forensic evidences which allowed them to identify the suspect.  Investigators walked an arrest warrant for the suspect.  After an attempt to locate the suspect at his residence rendered negative results, the information was forwarded to each of the patrol divisions.  On September 30, 2010, at about 10:30pm, Central Deployment Unit observed the suspect leaving the Exxon Station at Maple and Oak Lawn.  The suspect was taken into custody.  The identity of the suspect will not be released at this time because investigators are waiting to conduct a photo line up.  The Aggravated Robbery incident is documented on incident number 269715X.

—  John Wright

Another robbery victim kidnapped at gunpoint in Uptown Dallas, forced to drive to ATM

The second incident began at 4151 McKinney Ave. early Monday morning.

Dallas police say the same suspect may be responsible for two recent aggravated robberies in the Uptown and Oak Lawn area that involved victims being kidnapped and forced to drive to ATMs to withdraw money.

The first incident, which we reported on Tuesday, occurred late Sunday and began in the Office Depot parking lot on Oak Lawn Avenue, at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave.

The second incident began at 6:45 a.m. Monday in an alleway at 4151 McKinney Ave., according to police reports. The victim reportedly is an employee at the Katy Trail Animal Hospital.

“Detectives are looking to see if they are related,” DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse said of the two incidents on Wednesday. “The suspect description is very similar. We suggest people call ahead to their place of business or home and have someone waiting on them when they arrive to make sure they get inside safely. This lady [the second victim] did the right thing and complied with the demands.”

The suspect is described as a black male about 40 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds. He has a scar under his right eye and was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black hat at the time of the first incident. Anyone with information should call 214-671-4071 or 911.

If you’ll recall, there was a similar rash of aggravated robberies in Oak Lawn last year. The suspect in those cases was finally caught after David Ethridge, a gay victim, chased him down and obtained a license plate number from his vehicle.

—  John Wright

More on Sunday’s armed robbery in Oak Lawn, and an enhanced photo of that fake U.S. marshal

Dallas police on Tuesday released an enhanced photo (right) of the man they say posed as a U.S. marshal and assaulted a traffic control volunteer last week in Oak Lawn. Police are also asking local TV stations to play dash-cam video from the incident on the air again. We’ve posted a report from Fox containing the video, as well as DPD’s recycled bulletin from last week, after the jump.

Also, Instant Tea obtained additional information Tuesday about a robbery that occurred late Sunday night on Oak Lawn Avenue. According to Dallas police, when the victim exited his vehicle in the parking lot of Office Depot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave., the suspect pointed a gun to his head and forced him back into the car. The suspect got in the back seat and told the victim to drive to the Bank of America at Haskell Avenue and North Central Expressway. When the victim was unable to withdraw cash from the ATM, the suspect struck him in the back of the head with the gun. The suspect then told the victim to drive to the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Store at 2305 N. Central Expy., where the suspect forced the victim to go inside and withdraw $20. Finally, the suspect made the victim drop him off at Hall Street and the Central Expressway service road. Police initially believed the suspect may have been captured on video at Wal-Mart, but Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse informs us today that this is not the case. Again, per yesterday’s alert, the suspect is described as a black male about 40 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds. He has a scar under his right eye and was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black hat. Anyone with information should call 214-671-4071 or 911.

—  John Wright