Downtown Dallas stabbing shines spotlight on homeless, drug issues

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The attack on two women in downtown Dallas by a homeless man on Sunday is drawing attention to the ongoing homeless and drug issues in downtown.

Dallas police said Branden Holbert, 22, punched a woman repeatedly in the street and stabbed her and another woman in the elevator of the Wilson Building.

Holbert faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault causing bodily injury. The arrest warrant affidavit said Holbert was acting wildly in the middle of Main Street and then yelled at a woman, claiming she was taking a photo of him on a cell phone. He then ran after her and attacked, punching her multiple times.

She was able to get up and run inside the Wilson Building, but he was able to follow her into an elevator. He continued to attack, stabbing the woman in her back and right arm several times with a pocket knife. He also attacked another woman, slashing her face which caused a four-inch gash.

“The thing that happened this weekend, it stands to haunt us if we don’t expediently move up and address the concerns that we're having,” Caraway said during a meeting of the Dallas Citizens Homeless Commission. “The homeless are such a problem that we're utilizing our EMS system.”

Increased police presence in downtown is what Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano says has to happen right now. Medrano said the number of homeless people confronting downtown residents is escalating.

“It’s really frustrating,” Medrano said. “It’s really sad that happened to the two ladies. It’s just been close call after close call and something finally happened.”

Dallas has struggled to build an urban environment in downtown, but finally has thousands of people living in the city’s core.

Tyler Lea, who is part of the Downtown Dallas Neighborhood Association, said he wants more from city leaders when it comes to safety.

“They sort of have a great plan for the future, but we are looking for some sort of immediate action from somebody,” Lea said.

What happened Sunday could make some afraid to live, work or play downtown. Some people said they don't feel threatened by the homeless, while others are fed up.

“I think you obviously have to beware if you are in walking in a city,” said Jenny Xia. “Be aware of your surroundings and have some common sense.”

Francisco Dominguez said he operates businesses downtown and he’s tired of homeless people attempting or being successful at breaking in.

“We deal with it every single day and we hear all the stories,” Dominguez said. “We know all of their names. It’s one of those situations where it’s nothing nobody can do with it anymore.”    

Larry Farris has worked six years as a downtown bartender and moved close to work a year ago. He's had threatening encounters.

“Within the last month I bought a gun because I don't even feel safe at night going outside anymore,” Farris said, who added he’s also had aggressive homeless people go after him. “Just started chasing me. Thankfully I was able to get inside my building and close the door behind me.”

Holbert remains in jail on the two felony charges. Records show he was arrested in Dec. 2016 as well as April and August this year for possession of controlled substance.