Attacks in Oak Lawn have been dominating headlines since Sept. 20, the day of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, when a gay man was beaten with a baseball bat, kidnapped and then left for dead in the street.
Blake Rasnake said his attackers called him fag as they beat him and dragged him into their car just off Cedar Springs Road. They dumped him on a side street off Wycliff Avenue, near Harry Hines Boulevard, taking only his cell phone.
Laying in the street, Rasnake managed to yell loud enough to get a nearby resident’s attention, and that person called police and an ambulance, who took Rasnake to Parkland Hospital.
Less than two weeks later, Michael Dominguez was attacked from behind somewhere in the 3900 to 4000 block of Cedar Springs Road. He has little memory of the attack or anything that happened for several hours afterward.
Dominguez only knows the location had to be on Cedar Springs Road, because he had just left S4, in the 3900 block, to walk home, and he lives on that street. Calls to 911 were placed between Havana, in the 4000 block, and Kroger, in the 4100 block, by bystanders who saw him stagger by. But no one has acknowledged witnessing the attack.
Public attention began to build, but the attacks continued.
Police met with community members at a number of forums over the next few weeks. They added additional patrols and plainclothes detectives to try to solve the cases. And yet, the attacks continued on a near-weekly basis.
Because the attackers tended to strike from behind, many of the survivors didn’t get a good look at their assailants and so weren’t able to provide police with descriptions. Those who did see their assailants said they were attacked by either two, three or four black men, by a pair of Hispanic men, by two white men or, in at least one case, by a man and a woman.
By the end of the year, police had reports of 14 men being attacked but few clues, although police were able to begin linking some of the attacks. For instance, Attack Number 14 may have been committed by the same pair that attacked a man in September, a couple of weeks before the parade.
Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston diverted bond money originally planned for neighborhood beautification projects to area security initiatives, including more cameras and additional lighting. Medrano spent on
Friday night walking Cedar Springs with Mayor Mike Rawlings, who assured the community that city officials were, indeed, concerned and were taking action.
Police funded 10 security cameras to be placed on major street corners. Those cameras will be monitored at City Hall.
Bars and restaurants in the area put up additional security cameras around their businesses.
Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre’s bar, even put cameras up and down the alley that runs behind his bar. Two of the 14 attacks took place at the end of that alley.
Some of the bars hired security firms to patrol their blocks and parking lots and to walk patrons to their cars. Some posted warnings telling patrons not to walk alone.
Police warned Oak Lawn’s late-night patrons to walk in groups. They suggested several people leave a bar together and all go to the closest car, and the driver of that car could then shuttle the others to their vehicles.
Some Oak Lawn residents, frustrated with police inability to arrest a suspect, decided to take things into their own hands.
Several began patrolling the streets themselves, armed and ready to report anything suspicious to the police. Police, as frustrated as the rest of the community, began working with them.
As the year ended, no one had been arrested, and the community and police fear the attacks may continue.
Meanwhile, several of the survivors did what Dallas does best: They created a survivor’s group called SOS – Survivors Offering Support. Anyone who is a survivor of violent crime is welcome to attend. The group meets monthly at Resource Center.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016.