DALLAS -- “To have him released from the hospital and to also get the lift of his spirits to know that at least one of these guys has been caught is a huge emotional step for Derek and the family.”
Those were the words of Derek Whitener's attorney, Chris Hamilton, Saturday morning. And as surprising as it may sound, it's all true. Whitener, the local theater director who was beaten within an inch of his life in a Target parking lot, is home after two weeks in intensive care.
Meanwhile, Dallas Police are doing their part, announcing that one of the two men who allegedly beat him with a wooden rod is now behind bars.
It's a great feeling for Derek's family at The Firehouse Theatre.
“Joy that DPD was able to find the people," Firehouse Executive Director David Moore said, describing Saturday's turn of events.
There's still uncertainty, though.
“Still some concern that there’s still one out there," Moore added.
Whitener's lawyer, Hamilton, says the suspects, two young men described as 5'9", 150 lbs, and 18-20 years old, should've been gone from the CityPlace Target parking lot before Derek even drove up.
“Derek was not the only one who had reported these guys," Hamilton revealed Saturday. "To get not just one, but two, and possibly more reports and to not call the Police, not act on it, and to leave customers in danger is completely unacceptable.”
Hamilton says Target's action -- to send an off duty Dallas Police officer outside to tell the suspects to leave -- wasn't just nonchalant, they were negligent.
“The actions of Target had turned Derek into a target for aggression,” Hamilton said.
With one action, Whitener went from a highly successful local thespian, to a target, and now to a life stuck in therapy to regain motor skills and the ability to communicate.
“We don’t know if there’s a back to normal," Hamilton said. "We pray that there will be.”
The new normal right now is that Derek will do his therapy while The Firehouse Theatre rolls on with the production of 'Bye Bye Birdie' that he was slated to direct. It'll be happening with a family friend of Whitener's taking care of the directing duties.
Meanwhile, his GoFundMe page is well over $100,000, but more is still needed.
“Just because he’s out of the hospital doesn’t mean those expenses have stopped," Moore said.
DPD continues to investigate as well, searching for the second suspect. There's a $5,000 reward from Crime Stoppers for information that leads to arrest and conviction. If you have information that could help pinpoint the young man in the red and blue pants, call Detective Hubner in the Assaults Unit at 214-671-3639 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477)
The connecting thread seems to be that no one is stopping until Derek gets his day of justice.