PD offers tips on staying safe as crowds come to Oak Lawn for Pride

Shooting, recent uptick in muggings raise concerns in the gayborhood

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin
LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Pride weekend is expected bring huge crowds to the Oak Lawn area. But will the extra crowds translate into safety in numbers, or will it offer more chances for random attacks?
Dallas Police Officer Laura Martin, the department’s LGBT liaison, said that there would be at least 40 off-duty officers patrolling during the parade and festival in Lee Park.

Depending upon the size of the crowd, additional on-duty officers will also be in the area.

Martin said that any time crime is reported in an area, patrols are stepped up. But that doesn’t mean that officers will be found on every corner, and she warned anyone coming to Oak Lawn to take safety precautions.

“Parking in well lit areas makes a difference,” she said. “Don’t walk alone. Be aware of your surroundings.”

She said to be aware of groups of people that look they might be up to no good.

“Don’t be afraid to offend them,” she said, advising that people turn around or cross the street.

Because of the number of people who will be in Oak Lawn, Martin said that parking will be a problem. Available parking may be farther from the bars than usual. And she warned visitors to the area not to park illegally or in lots marked for towing.

“A lot of cars will be towed this weekend,” Martin said.

She suggested that people who are staying to go to the bars or restaurants on Cedar Springs after the parade and festival in Lee Park either move cars closer early in the evening as the crowds thin or take a cab back to their car later at night.

Martin also suggested that visitors “avoid ATMs in the area where you’re going to be.” She suggested going to the ATM near home or stopping off for cash the day before, and said visitors to the area shouldn’t carry too much cash with them.

A robbery in Oak Lawn last week involved someone who was carrying cash that he had not gotten to deposit in the bank.

On Sept. 10, a 21-year-old man was held up at gunpoint at as he was retrieving keys from a friend’s car on Dickason Avenue, one block from the bars on Cedar Springs Road.

Two Latin males in their 20s demanded money and property and got away with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500. The incident happened at 10:15 p.m. The victim, who asked not to be identified, was not injured.

Several other incidents have occurred in the area over the past month.

On Aug. 30, Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull was shot in a robbery on Brown Street just a couple of blocks from his apartment. After two emergency surgeries, he was scheduled to be released from Parkland Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 16.

On Aug. 19, Kellen Sullivan was at Uncle Julio’s on Lemmon celebrating a friend’s birthday when he stepped outside to smoke. He was standing about 10 feet from the entrance when he was assaulted. Although Sullivan willingly gave the mugger his wallet, the man still hit him in the face with his pistol and ran.

“My nose was a complete bloody mess,” said Sullivan. “I had a gash on the side of my eye.”

He said that his has three scars from the attack and left the side of his eye is misshapen.

Two witnesses saw the attack. One said that he saw the suspect take the wallet and run through an alley toward Wycliff Avenue. He and another witness followed the suspect down the alley and reported to police that he jumped into a waiting gold Chevrolet Cavalier parked at an apartment complex off Wycliff Avenue.

The suspects drove off with their lights off, and the witnesses were unable to get the license plate number in the dark.

Allison said Sullivan came back into the restaurant with two black eyes and a cut on his cheek. Dallas Fire-Rescue treated him at the scene.

Violent crime is down in the city of Dallas by 7.3 percent for the year. The biggest decrease is in the murder rate. Rape is the only category that shows an increase.

Aggravated assaults are down, but only by less than 1 percent.

Overall crime is also down in the reporting district that includes the Cedar Springs entertainment area and surrounding neighborhoods, but reported street attacks on members of LGBT community appear to be on the increase.

Martin said that she would like to see increased reporting by witnesses. Although she said she hopes most people feel comfortable working with officers assigned to patrol the area, she said she is there for anyone who was not.

Martin said she understands concerns of people who are not out, have employment concerns or are married and she can take witness information confidentially. She can be reached at a non-police department e-mail at police@rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

BREAKING: Dallas police issue alert after man shot, robbed while walking to Oak Lawn gay bar

A 49-year-old man was shot during a robbery early Monday while walking to a gay bar on Oak Lawn Avenue, according to Dallas police reports.

The victim, Doug Tull, was taken to Parkland hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Tull was walking toward Pekers at 2615 Oak Lawn Ave. at about 1 a.m. when the three suspects pulled up in a car. One of the men jumped out and demanded Tull’s money. When Tull said he didn’t have any money, the suspect shot him.

Tull managed to make his way to Pekers, where someone called 911. Tull told police he didn’t remember the exact location where he was robbed, but it was somewhere in the area of Shelby and Brown streets. The suspects are described as three black males in their early to mid-20s, weighing around 150 pounds and wearing white T-shirts and dark jeans. They fled eastbound on Oak Lawn Avenue.

Reports say Tull initially believed he’d been stabbed during the robbery. It wasn’t until he got to the hospital that a doctor discovered that Tull had actually suffered a gunshot wound below his sternum.

The Dallas Police Department issued an alert Monday night encouraging people to travel in numbers in the Oak Lawn area. It marked the first shooting of a gay bar patron in Oak Lawn since 2007, when a man was fatally shot near an ATM on Throckmorton Street.

Below is the alert sent out by DPD, as well as the full police report from the incident. Anyone with information about the robbery can call DPD at 214-671-4071. This is a developing story. Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates.




—  John Wright

Letters • 07.30.10

Perception of weakness

In the article “Letter criticizes FBI’s handling of Terlingua attack,” (Dallas Voice, July 23), the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School makes a very profound statement.

He said, regarding the victim of the attack, “I think he was targeted because he was perceived as weak and vulnerable.” He went on to elaborate that what mattered was the “perception” that the victim was “different.”

This is strikingly familiar to the story, several months ago now, of two men attacked in the Oak Lawn area by those wielding baseball bats (“Community outraged over assault,” Dallas Voice, May 21).

It was the “perception” of their vulnerability that more than likely made them the target of those who attacked them. But something made them stand out in the minds of their attackers.

It is the perception of being vulnerable that is really the issue here. It does not matter so much if someone is perceived to be “gay” so much as they are perceived to be “prey.” What was it that made them stand out in the predator’s/predators’ mind(s)?

The more we ask these questions of ourselves, the more we initiate those skill sets that allow us to think like a predator instead of prey.

A person’s gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation are really superfluous to the issue at hand. What matters is the “perception” of vulnerability — period.

And there isn’t always safety in numbers. As the two men attacked recently will attest, four attackers still outnumber two victims, let alone if they have weapons.

I just spoke to a man in Uptown last week, late 20s and very physically fit, who was attacked by two men while on business in Atlanta. His level of fitness afforded him nothing when faced with two assailants when he was admittedly a bit “tipsy” leaving a nightclub, separated from his two friends and distracted by the new female friend he had just met inside. His two assailants knew he was vulnerable for several reasons.

Until we all ask those internal questions that only the individual can ask and then seek out the advice and training to help us fill in those gaps of vulnerability, the stories involving predator and prey will continue to be a recurring theme in our print and news media.

Jeff McKissack, speaker/instructor
DefenseByDesign.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas