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.

—  Dallasvoice

Police seek suspects who robbed Bio Scrip on Cedar Springs, 7 other businesses

DPD is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects who are now believed to be responsible for up to eight recent aggravated robberies. Among the stores hit were Bio Scrip Pharmacy at 3826 Cedar Springs Road on Dec. 23 and Skylight Wireless at 3218 Oak Lawn Ave. on Dec. 26.

The first suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, red T-shirt and black or blue cap with a red bill. The second suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds, wearing dark jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt.

The two suspects are also believed to be responsible for recent offenses at the following locations:

• T-Mobile 3003 Knox
• Metro PCS 3610 Inwood
• Baja Auto Insurance 2542 Gus Thomasson
• Raven Pharmacy 500 W. Jefferson
• EZ Money Loan 5365 Spring Valley Rd
• Metro PCS 4825 Ross Ave

If you have information about these suspects or any of these crimes call the Dallas Police Department Crimes Against Persons Unit at 214-671-3584, or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

—  David Taffet

Dallas police issue statement on safety, alleged increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center

The Dallas Police Department issued the following statement today in response to an unsubstantiated, viral e-mail claiming a huge increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center:

Safety at North Park Mall

There have been multiple inquiries in the last twenty-four hours from the media regarding safety at North Park Mall. These inquiries were apparently spurred by an e-mail from a mall patron who noted an increase in young people at the mall and increased police presence as well as from an informal conversation about the situation with off-duty officers there. Please know the following:

North Park officials report an increase in the number of young people at the mall, particularly around the movie theaters. The report we have from patrol and gang unit officers is that there is no discernable organized gang presence there. The Dallas Police Department’s gang unit did go to the mall during the week of the Super Bowl as a routine measure. They made one arrest. They then did a follow-up but found no compelling reason to continue monitoring the mall on a regular basis.

Reported crime at the mall is actually down since the first of the year as compared to the same time last year. There have been 14 reported Part 1 crimes (not counting shoplift cases) compared to 21 last year. And the overwhelming majority of the offenses both years involve thefts of or from vehicles in the parking lot. There have been two robberies and one aggravated assault reported in the mall so far this year. While those certainly are a concern, they closely parallel the number and kinds of crime seen in previous years and by no means suggest an up-tick in offenses at the mall.

In late January additional off-duty Dallas officers were hired by the mall in anticipation of an influx of visitors coming to Dallas for the Super Bowl. The mall decided to keep hiring additional officers, particularly on weekend evenings, as a precautionary measure.

It is always a best practice to be vigilant of your surroundings whether it is walking in your neighborhood or shopping at your favorite locations. North Park security and the Dallas Police Department will continue to work to keep the mall a secure and vibrant shopping area where the public can go with confidence of being safe.

—  John Wright

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

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

UPDATED: Man robbed at gunpoint just 1 block from strip; suspects make off with $500 in cash

Between the shooting of Doug Tull and another holdup last week on Travis Street, it sure seems as though there’s been a rash of gun-involved robberies targeting gay bar patrons of late.

The most recent robbery occurred at 10:15 p.m. Friday at 4000 Dickason Ave., which is at the intersection of Reagan Street, just one block from the Cedar Springs strip.

The suspects pointed a gun at the 21-year-old white male victim and demanded his property, before making off with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500, according to police reports.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in the case. The suspects are described as two Latin males in their 20s, Janse said. One is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and was wearing a white shirt at the time of the robbery.

“There is no evidence that links this to any other robberies in the area,” Janse said.

UPDATE: The victim, who asked not to be identified, said he had walked around the corner from JR.’s  to retrieve his keys from a friend’s car that was parked on Dickason Avenue. He said he was leaning into the car when the two suspects came out of nowhere and put a gun to his head.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, are they going to shoot me? Is this a hate crime or am I about to get mugged?’” he said. “I had no idea what was going on. It was the quickest thing ever, but I’ve never been more scared in my life.”

The victim, who’s gay, said he thinks bars in the area need to do a better job of making it safe.

“I really feel like the bars need to step up their game,” he said. “They need to invest in the people who spend the money, and they need to protect them.”

As he was running back to JR’s, the victim said he saw one of the suspects fleeing behind Woody’s and notified a security guard. “The security guard wouldn’t do anything. He told me I needed to chill out.”

The victim said he was carrying a large amount of cash because he was in a fender bender earlier in the day and had been unable to go to the bank.

“I was alone. It was stupid,” he said, adding that the suspects must have thought they hit the lottery. “I would never even think that that area would be a safety issue.”

The victim said he doesn’t plan to go back to the area anytime soon.

“You just have to be careful, especially with the whole gay Pride thing coming up,” he said. “It’s just scary. I don’t even know how it happened. It’s kind of like a dream, a bad, bad dream — a nightmare.”

—  John Wright

Violent crime drops 11% in Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG

Police report 11 percent decrease in violent crime in Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG in first 6 months of 2010

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Scott Whittall

Despite a recent high-profile hate crime in Oak Lawn, the area surrounding the Cedar Springs strip has gotten safer over the last six months, according to statistics from the Dallas Police Department.

In 2009, a roughly 1-square-mile area that includes the gay entertainment district recorded the fourth-most violent offenses of any of the city’s 26 worst crime hotspots.

But during the first six months of 2010, the area known as the Cedar Springs Wycliff Target Area Action Grid (TAAG) saw an 11 percent drop in violent crime, the statistics show.

From January through June of this year, the Cedar Springs Wycliff  TAAG recorded 95 violent offenses, down from 107 in the same period last year.

While DPD officials have cautioned against ranking the areas, 2010 numbers put the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 on the citywide list for violent crime.

DPD Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, who’s over the department’s Northwest Division, said according to more recent statistics, through July 11, violent crime is down 15 percent in the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG.

“We’ve been pouring a lot of resources into different areas,” Aziz said Thursday, July 15. “We’ve still got issues we’ve got to deal with, but crime is on the decrease. The payoff is as great as the community engagement with police.”

Overall, the 26 TAAGs have seen a 6 percent reduction in violent crime in the first half of this year.

In the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG, individual robberies have seen the biggest drop, going from 69 in the first six months of 2009 to 55 this year. The other categories of violent crime — aggravated assault, murder, rape and business robberies — have stayed roughly the same.

Aziz said there’s also been a substantial decrease in nonviolent offenses — including property crimes such as burglary and theft — in the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG.

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he’s noticed a difference.

“It’s definitely an improvement,” Whittall said. “I think as business owners on the street, we feel it. It’s definitely reduced, so those numbers don’t shock me.”

Whittall and others have criticized the TAAG statistics in the past, saying they’re not an accurate reflection of the gay entertainment district.

While it includes the strip, the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG stretches to Parkland Hospital and beyond Stemmons Freeway in some places.

“I have a feeling that in our little area, that it’s a higher drop,” Whittall said.

He added that he’s noticed an increased police presence, including an unmanned cruiser parked in the Kroger parking lot.

“That type of little extra effort is very welcome,” he said.

Whittall, co-owner of Buli Café, said the business received a visit recently from DPD officers conducting a survey about crime issues in the area.

During a June meeting with LGBT stakeholders, new Police Chief David Brown promised a return to community-oriented policing.

“We’re just trying to drill down to be more pointed and more focused on specific things we need to target,” Aziz said of the survey.

………………………………..

Top 10 Crime Hotspots in Dallas in 2010

Area:    No. offenses
Five Points:    153
Northwest Hwy/Harry Hines:    114
Ross/Bennett:    108
Hatcher/2nd:    102
Forest/Audelia:    97
Jim Miller Loop 12:    96
Cedar Springs/Wycliff:    95
Buckner/Peavy:    92
Jefferson Corridor:    91
Buckner/Bruton:    87
Source: Dallas Police Department

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas