Shooting, recent uptick in muggings raise concerns in the gayborhood
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer [email protected]
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 [email protected].
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.