Frustration turns to anger as victims, activists wait for concrete progress in spate of assaults
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
Victims of recent attacks and members of the LGBT community working for more security in Oak Lawn were fuming this week over the way police handled the arrests of two teens who allegedly committed a carjacking last weekend.
Deon Fridia and Donedwin Maxie were arrested about two hours after assaulting, robbing and carjacking a woman in a parking garage at 2140 Medical District Drive, across from Parkland Hospital.
Police initially suggested the pair may have been involved in the string of attacks that have taken place in Oak Lawn since the night of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. But that theory was quickly discounted.
“As a matter of course we will be investigating as to whether or not we are able to tie these suspects to any of the other offenses committed in the Oak Lawn area,” read a statement on the DPD blog. “We anticipate conducting photo lineups with these suspects and are therefore not releasing their photos.”
Michael Phelps is a concerned Oak Lawn resident who has patrolled the neighborhood, walking up and down the dark streets late at night. He has been actively followings the investigation, and insists there was little similarity between the previous attacks and the carjacking last weekend. Phelps said he believes police held the press conference and suggested a link to try to look like they were making progress.
“I’d say they rushed to get this in the news,” Phelps said. “The car, gun and being connected to Irving don’t fit.”
The victims in the Oak Lawn attacks were gay men who were targeted for their sexual orientation, Phelps said, while Maxie and Fridia chose a woman as their target.
He listed other differences as well.
The woman was hit in the head with a stolen gun and the suspects made no attempt to conceal their identity. The men attacked in Oak Lawn were hit from behind with a baseball bat, making it difficult for them to identify their assailants.
The gun used in the carjacking was stolen in Irving and the pair took items from the woman’s purse.
In the Oak Lawn attacks, any robbery was an afterthought. In most cases, nothing more than a phone was taken and that was probably to prevent the victims from calling for help.
The final straw was when Fridia’s mother revealed her son had been in the Collin County jail during the period the attacks took place. Then in an interview with Dallas Morning News, Fridia said he had no problem with gay people.
Phelps said he’s been talking to people on the street, including homeless people, who have given him some clues about the attacks. He’s passed those on to the police who are following up on those leads.
“I’m keeping in contact with detectives and have been sending info to them,” he said.
News of the arrests got to survivors of the attacks through the media.
Michael Dominguez is healing well from the injuries he suffered when he was attacked on Oct. 2. He has helped create a group for survivors of violent attacks and said he was expecting to hear from police after Fridia and Maxie were arrested. But he got no word.
“As a survivor whose assailant is still at large, anytime you hear about the possibility of a break in your case you get your hopes up,” Dominguez said. “To have such heavy implications that these attackers could possibly be connected, and then to find out that at least one of the them is almost a complete impossibility, it’s frustrating and disappointing.”
Alexandre’s owner Lee Daugherty has been attending meetings with police, LGBT Task Force meetings and protests. He encouraged the community to “continue to support DPD in any investigation they do.”
But at the same time, Daugherty said the press conference and handling of the arrest were disheartening. He and Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell told local news on Sunday that the crimes didn’t match, and Daugherty suggested the arrests were “a rush to pacify.”
However, two customers came into Alexandre’s this week and told Daugherty they were attacked outside their apartment a couple of years ago and the mug shots released of Fridia and Maxie match. They said the attack was related to gang violence and wondered if any of the Oak Lawn attacks were gang related.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2015.