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

Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at AirConditioningRepairArlington.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

DEALING with it

A LEAGUE OF OUR  OWN | Flirting can be used to your advantage when playing poker in a gay league. Just ask Pocket Rockets founder Jeff Teller. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Even with Lady Gaga’s advice, poker face does nothing to help the couch potato know when to hold ’em and fold ’em in gay traveling card tourney

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Playing for money without really playing for money is my kind of betting. With gas at three bucks a gallon, my wallet is screaming for help, but Pocket Rockets turns me into one high roller. All I really have to dole out is a couple of bucks for drinks and put on a poker face for some Texas Hold ‘em action at three clubs around the gayborhood. The best part — total exhilaration — comes even when my ass is handed to me by my opponent’s full house.

“We go out of our way to make sure people are comfortable in poker setting,” says owner Jeff Teller. “It’s just about fun.”

At Sue Ellen’s on a recent Tuesday, I got my game on. Activities that involve sitting while partaking of alcohol are ideal for the dedicated couch potato. The cardio behind it is just my speed at the deal … but seriously, poker is stressful. Thinking it would be all drinks and laughs, the “fun table” was just as serious as the tournament final table dealing across the dance floor. I’d played Texas Hold ‘em once before at some friends’ loft. Once. And that was three years ago. Without Cliff’s Notes in hand, I was about to be “that guy.” But once people figured I was the speed bump, they all pitched in to help.

“Lots of people are intimidated by poker, but we’re really friendly,” Teller assures. “[My partner, Aaron Ahamed and I] were nervous our first time. The one thing we do at our league is, we emphasize good sportsmanship. I really feel that enables us to bring in new players.”

By day, Teller is a yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, but his interest in poker got him started on the path with his new company.

Poker isn’t new to Dallas gays: The Round-Up Saloon hosts a Wednesday tourney that goes on hiatus for a while after each championship. Pocket Rockets, however, runs continuously, offering prizes each night (which I didn’t win).

Teller says up to 45 players will play on any given night, which (as of now) takes place four times a week. Along with Sue Ellen’s on Tuesdays, Pocket Rockets hosts poker tourneys at TMC: The Mining Company on Thursdays and at the Brick Saturdays and Sundays. Teller and Ahamed plan to keep players going at each of those venues while adding more.

“We’re making an effort to get out there, be involved,” he says. “We started going and went to a couple of other leagues and thought how nice it’d be to put emphasis on gay community.”

My night of play, despite my half-hearted efforts in true CPAJ style, left me a total loser. My first plan of attack wasn’t working: Fold and never bet until people fell out of the game. This was not a good idea. Confusion led to checking which led to unfortunate bets. When I looked down I had less than 10 chips — just over a $1,000. This was the inevitable “fuck it moment” and I went all-in with a hand that I felt confident about … too confident as it turned out.

With an ace and a queen in hand and an ace and queen on the table, I had a strong two pair hand. I was edging, trying not to jump ahead to do my “in your face” dance. Something about a side bet would have put me back on track but another player won with his ace and king, also mirrored on the table. One other player had his ace but a weaker hand. It was climactic and the table rallied with “ohhhs” as each hand revealed.

“Yeah, there’s that drama because queens are playing,” Teller says. “ Some people take their game so seriously that you’d think the Super Bowl was going on. You can’t help the drama.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Going in as a novice, margaritas and beers obviously did not affect my judgment, but Teller still gave me tips on how to be ready for the next time.

“Sense you’re players and if they are cute, that could work in your favor,” he says. “You can distract with flirtation and then all of the sudden take him out. And glute exercises, because sometimes you’re sitting for hours at a time.”

Wait, exercise? Ugh.

For more information, visit PocketRocketsDallas.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Do You Have Room In Your Wallet for a Diversity Platinum Card?


Unlike the Human Rights Campaign's Visa card, carrying around the Diversity Platinum card isn't an invitation to rack up debt. That's because it's not even a credit card, but rather a "rewards card" where, for /year ( of which goes toward a charity like the Trevor Project), you can get a "membership to GLAAD, an email newsletter, and oh yeah, some discounts at hotels like Klmpton and retailers like Macy's. Who's behind this thing? Steve Harris, the editor of A Bear's Life magazine, who says he wanted "to think what would support the community, what could we do to support the charities and organizations that were feeling the brunt of the economic downturn. We wanted to reach out to the entire gay community. I created it as a platinum card because I feel that we have moved forward from rainbow cards and rainbow colors. I really wanted to create something that people would be proud of to take out of their wallet and show that they were a part of such an important community." Let me carry it in an iPhone app, and I'll consider.


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Queerty

—  admin

Victim knocked out, shot fired into air during robbery near Cedar Springs strip early Saturday

A man was knocked unconscious and a gunshot was fired into the air early Saturday during a violent robbery just a few blocks from the Cedar Springs strip, according to Dallas police reports.

The two victims were walking home at about 1:30 a.m. in an alley between Throckmorton and Knight streets when two Latino males came up behind them, pulled out guns and demanded money, the reports say.

One of the men ran out of the alley onto Knight Street between Hall and Rawlins streets, yelling for someone to call police. One of the gunmen briefly chased the man and fired a shot into the air as he ducked behind a car.

Meanwhile, after the second victim handed over some cash, the other suspect hit him in the face with his pistol and demanded his wallet. The victim fell to the ground and the suspect got on top of him and took his wallet. Then both suspects pistol-whipped the man in the head until he blacked out.

The victim regained consciousness and was able to walk out of the alley toward his home on Knight Street. He was taken to Parkland hospital with cuts and bruises on his head and face.

The suspects were still at large.

—  John Wright

Trans man Lance Reyna’s attacker has been released from jail, and he’s ‘about to lose it’

Terrance Calhoun

Back in June we told you about a brutal hate-crime attack against a transgender man inside a restroom on the campus of Houston Community College. Lance Reyna, a student-activist who’s both transgender and gay, was washing his hands when his attacker emerged from a stall and put a knife to his throat saying, “Hey queer, I need you to be quiet, cooperate, and give me all your valuables.” Reyna was knocked to the floor and beaten and kicked. His wallet and credit cards were taken. Terrance Calhoun, 22, was later arrested on campus and charged with aggravated robbery in the attack that occurred during Houston’s gay Pride week. Three months later, Calhoun has bonded out of jail as he awaits sentencing.

“I just got informed that my attacker is out of JAIL, someone please calm me down because I’m about to lose it,” Reyna wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

“I feel hopeless right now, plus all the bullying not being taken serious is something I can relate from my younger days in school,” he added Thursday night.

“Just spoke with HPD investigator, threatening text message has been documented. When number was ran it came up with a history,” Reyna wrote Friday morning.

Cristan Williams of the Houston-based Transgender Foundation for America reports on her blog that police don’t plan to pursue hate crime charges against Calhoun:

“Since the attacker won’t fess up to knowing that Lance was part of the GLBT community, he won’t be held accountable under State or Federal hate crime statutes and the case will be prosecuted as a simple assault,” Williams wrote. “As it stands now, he’s out of jail and may get off with a slap on the wrist and some community service because this is his, ‘first time offence’ (according to the DA’s office)!”

UPDATE: We spoke with Reyna on Friday afternoon, and he said Calhoun pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, earlier this month. Calhoun bonded out of jail this week while he awaits sentencing in early November, but Reyna said a prosecutor told him Calhoun could receive probation because it’s his first felony.

Reyna said the FBI investigated the case under the new federal hate crimes law that passed last year. However, because Calhoun wouldn’t admit that he targeted Reyna because he is transgender, the FBI opted not to pursue hate crimes charges. This was despite the fact that Calhoun used an anti-LGBT slur, “queer,” during the attack.

“I’m really disgusted with the way they don’t want to take things seriously,” Reyna said of authorities.

Reyna, who now attends the University of Houston, said Calhoun lives just a few blocks away from the campus, and he’s concerned for his safety. He said he hopes Calhoun is sentenced to at least 2 1/2 years behind bars, to give him a chance to finish school.

“That way, there would be less of a chance of me running into him,” Reyna said. “I had calmed down a little bit, but now I’m back to when it initially happened. I’m reliving the attack, and I don’t want to deal with the hell I went through right after it. It’s too much for me to deal with right now, just knowing he’s out on the streets.”

Reyna said it took him three weeks to recover from a concussion he sustained in the attack, and he’s currently undergoing counseling.

“They say have a lot of systems of post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “I have my good days and bad days, buy my level of anxiety just went up a couple of notches with him getting out of jail.”

Reyna said he also received a threatening text message a few days before Calhoun got out, but he is unsure who sent it. He has reported the message to police.

Williams, of the TFA, said she’s concerned about the standard that’s apparently being used by authorities to determine whether offenses are hate crimes. Texas’ hate crimes statute doesn’t include protections for transgender people, but the new federal law does.

“Apparently the attackers just have to come out and say, ‘Yes it’s a hate crime. I hate them, I was motivated by hate, now take me off to jail,’” Williams said. “Basically, unless they can have evidence that is beyond the pale, that is incontrovertible, they can’t prosecute it is as a hate crime.

“It would break if my heart, and it would make me lose a lot of respect for our legal system, if this guy gets off with a slap on the wrist and some community service after attacking a trans man with a deadly weapon and sending him to the hospital,” Williams said.

—  John Wright