Plano police say they’re treating city’s 1st-ever anti-gay hate crime as ‘high-priority case’

Plano Sports Authority

Plano police still have no suspects in what they’re now calling the city’s first-ever anti-gay hate crime.

David Tilley, spokesman for Plano police, said the department is treating the attack as a “very, very high priority” and reaching out to media outlets after Dallas Voice first reported the incident last week.

The assault involved two black men between the ages of 17-25 attacking and beating an 18-year-old with a gun outside the rec center on Sunday afternoon, May 26, after the teen defended his two female friends from anti-gay comments by the suspects. One suspect had orange highlights in his dreadlocks and a tattoo on his left forearm, characteristics Tilley said he hopes someone will recognize.

Tilley said recent surveillance footage revealed the cameras at Plano Sports Authority were not working when the assault happened. He said police are knocking on doors and asking for the public’s assistance to identify the men.

“At his point, we’ve just been knocking on doors, talking to people, trying to find somebody to identify this,” he said. “We’re working pretty hard on it. … This is a very, very high-priority case for us and we’re trying to get this thing solved and get these individuals off the street and in custody as soon as we can.”

According to FBI reports posted online, the incident was the first reported anti-gay hate crime in Plano since at least 2005. In a CBS 11 story, Tilley said the assault is the first reported anti-gay hate crime in Plano history.

Tilley is also quoted as saying that police are pursing the hate crime designation for the incident even though aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is already a first-degree felony and cannot be enhanced under Texas’ hate crime statute.

Anyone with information about this case can contact police at 972-424-5678, or call 972-941-2148 to make an anonymous tip.

From CBS 11:

“The whole point of the hate crime is basically for an enhancement, because it takes one particular charge and enhances is up to a higher level. There’s really nowhere to go with this because it [Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge] already is a first-degree felony,” he said. “We believe these individuals committed a bias-motivated crime, which is a hate crime and because of that we want to investigate it that way, regardless of whether there’s gonna wind up being any enhancement.”

Officer Tilley said there’s another reason for the hate crime designation, “We want to make sure that everybody understands we are not gonna accept bias-motivated crimes in our city.”

—  Anna Waugh

Police say they’re treating teen’s assault outside Plano Sports Authority as an anti-gay hate crime

Plano Sports Authority

Plano police now say they’re treating an aggravated assault outside the Plano Sports Authority last weekend as an anti-gay hate crime.

The mother of the 18-year-old male victim told Instant Tea this week that her son was leaving the Plano Sports Authority, a public recreation center, with his two lesbian friends on Sunday when two men approached them. The men made comments about the teen’s friends holding hands, then kicked and beat him with a gun when he defended them. The victim told Instant Tea he didn’t want to comment on the incident or be identified.

David Tilley, a spokesman for the Plano Police Department, confirmed the mother’s account on Friday and said what were initially described as “rude comments” in an online crime bulletin were actually “derogatory sexually-oriented comments” toward the lesbian couple.

Tilley said while he doesn’t know what exactly was said by the suspects, they asked if the two girls were lesbians and may have said other things when the teen intervened to get them to leave his friends alone. He said the victim and his friends are cooperating with police, leading investigators to suspect a hate crime occurred.

“There was enough concern to believe that this could be classified as a hate crime,” Tilley said. “So we are looking into this as a hate crime.”

According to the FBI’s online “Hate Crimes Statistics” reports, the incident would be the first reported anti-gay hate crime in Plano since at least 2005, if not ever.

—  Anna Waugh

UPDATED: Gay activist Phil Johnson, reported missing this morning, has been found

Phil Johnson

UPDATE:

Phil Johnson is in physical therapy after falling in his bathtub a week ago.

Friends were worried when they could not get in touch with him and contacted Plano police and Dallas Voice.

Johnson’s sister took him to the hospital and had his cell phone so he was not able to answer calls. He is expected to be released later this week.

ORIGINAL POST:

LGBT community leader Phil Johnson, 86, is missing, and Plano police are asking for help and any information.

Daniel Sepko, a friend from Ohio who keeps in touch with Johnson, contacted Instant Tea on Monday and said he hasn’t heard from him in more than a week. After calls to Johnson weren’t returned, Sepko contacted several friends in Plano who also had not heard from Johnson in several weeks. This morning Sepko contacted Plano police.

Plano police went to Johnson’s house. When there was no response at the door, they entered the house and found his car in the garage but no sign of Johnson.

Officer David Tilley said Plano police checked hospitals and ambulance calls. There was no mail stacked in the box or newspapers at the door. However, he said, neighbors said they haven’t seen Johnson in about a week.

Sepko said Johnson was taking a class at Collin County Community College, so it’s unlikely he went out of town during the semester, especially without telling anyone.

Johnson is best known as a chronicler of Dallas LGBT community. His donation of printed material to Resource Center Dallas was the beginning of that organization’s archives known as the Phil Johnson Archives & Library. He had collected every copy of the Advocate, Dallas Voice, TWT and articles about the LGBT community in Dallas dating back to the 1940s. In the 1960s, he also created the first gay group in Dallas, called Circle of Friends.

Anyone with information or who has seen Johnson recently should contact Plano police at 972-941-2148.

—  David Taffet