DALLAS - Dallas police are looking for the two men who used a wooden rod to viciously beat a man in a Target parking lot.
Derrick Whitner, a well-known director at the Firehouse Theater in Farmers Branch, remains in the ICU following Saturday night’s attack. Family and friends said he had stopped at the store on Haskell Avenue after a show to buy groceries.
Police said Whitner told a Target worker that two suspicious men started walking towards him as he approached the store. They turned around when he got to the entrance.
An off-duty officer who was working as a security guard at Target spotted the suspects near the entrance a short time later and asked them to leave the property. He noticed that one man had a 3-foot wooden dowel rod in his hand.
Police said the two men were still in the parking lot when Whitner left the store around 11 p.m. They approached him as he was walking to his car, threatened him and beat him with the stick. They took off on foot after the attack.
Police say it's possible — but unclear — if the suspects witnessed Whitener report them to security or what the motive may have been. While he was verbally attacked, investigators say there's no evidence of a hate crime and nothing was stolen.
There is surveillance video of the attack. The suspects are described as black males between the ages of 18 and 20 who both were about 150 pounds.
One was seen wearing a black hoodie with white lettering, red jeans and white Nike shoes. The other had on a light gray jacket, black pants and black gloves. They were both carrying backpacks and gorilla masks.
Local theaters are also raising money for Whitner's GoFundMe account, which has already raised more than $62,000.
Police say it was a customer who reported the assault to the off-duty officer. They are still trying to talk to other potential witnesses and have not been able to talk to Whitener yet.
Police aren't speculating about a motive, but say the men were spotted before the incident pulling door handles and possibly looking for crimes of opportunity.
Anyone with information about them or the case is asked to call Detective Hubner at 214-671-3639 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS. There is up to a $5,000 reward available for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.