What to Know
- Man assaulted outside Dallas Target store by two men.
- Men described as young, one armed with a wooden dowel rod.
- A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect.
Dallas police hope surveillance photos released Tuesday will help them identify and locate two people wanted in connection with an assault outside a Target store that left a man hospitalized.
Derek Whitener, 33, was beaten with a wooden rod by two men just before 11 p.m. Saturday while walking to his car outside the Target store on the 2400 block of North Haskell Avenue, Dallas police say. He was transported to Baylor Medical Center Dallas where he continues to recover after undergoing surgery for a fractured skull.
While police have not confirmed the motive in the beating, they said Tuesday that Whitener was initially confronted by two men as he walked toward the store but that the men walked away when he went to the entrance.
Once inside the store, police said Whitener reported the men as "suspicious" to Target personnel.
As a Target security guard and an off-duty Dallas police officer approached the two men, one of them walked away. The second man, shown in surveillance video holding a wooden rod, had a brief discussion with the off-duty police officer and was asked to leave the property.
Whitener wrapped up his shopping and left the store at about 11:05 p.m. As he walked toward his vehicle, police said he was again approached by the two men. This time they made a threatening statement and began beating him with the stick before running from the parking lot.
A customer in the parking lot reported the incident to the off-duty officer who then called for medical help.
After reviewing the surveillance video from the store, police are looking for two people who match the following descriptions:
- Unknown person number 1: A black man between the ages of 18 and 20, standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket, black pants, black backpack, black gloves, a gorilla mask and was armed with a 3-foot wooden dowel rod.
- Unknown person number 2: A black man between the ages of 18 and 20, standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white lettering, red/blue jeans, white Nike shoes, black backpack, and a gorilla mask.
Police said Tuesday there is no indication this is a hate crime, but they did not disclose what the men said before beating Whitener.
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Anyone with information about the assault is encouraged to contact Detective Hubner in the Assaults Unit at 214-671-3639 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Friends and family of the victim have created a GoFundMe account to help him with his medical bills and loss of income.
Whitener, a well-known actor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was attacked following a performance at The Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch.
"Heartbroken, devastated, shocked," said David Moore, executive business director at The Firehouse Theatre. "All of those words describe how we're feeling."
"I think there's a lot of anger that it happened and for the people that have not yet been found that did it to him," Moore said.
This weekend, The Firehouse Theatre along with others where Whitener also performed, will donate a portion of their ticket sales to his recovery.
"It's nice to be able to a practical, tangible opportunity to give back to somebody in need, to unite a community through action, not just words," said Jason Leyval, The Firehouse Theatre's technical director.
NBC 5's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.