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Published: Tuesday, 4/3/2012

Man, 78, recounts assault by 6 youths in E. Toledo

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dallas Watts, 78, indicates where he was kicked during an assault that took place in East Toledo on Saturday. He said there were six boys, the youngest one 11 years old. Dallas Watts, 78, indicates where he was kicked during an assault that took place in East Toledo on Saturday. He said there were six boys, the youngest one 11 years old.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: In a follow-up story published April 7, police say the robbery and assault of a 78-year-old Toledo man by six juveniles were not racially motivated and his account of what happened might have been exaggerated. READ STORY: 'It's causing issues here that shouldn't be here'

It was six against one.

Six juveniles -- the youngest 11, and the oldest 17 -- nearly boxed in Dallas Watts, a 78-year-old man from East Toledo.

Mr. Watts was on his way home from the nearby Gas Express Mart at Starr Avenue and White Street about 4:45 p.m. Saturday when the boys approached him.

PHOTOS: Man, 78, recounts assault

RELATED ARTICLE: Man's account of assault exaggerated, police say (4/07/12)

One pointed at Mr. Watts and said, "take him down," the victim recounted in an interview Monday.

Mr. Watts, carrying home two small bags of pork rinds to dole out as treats to his three dachshunds, looked at the youth and said, "Why you picking on me?" Mr. Watts recalled. "Remember Trayvon. Why you picking on me?"

The boy, again, allegedly told his friends to "take him down."

Toledo police charged two children -- the 11-year-old and a 17-year-old -- with robbery, Sgt. Roy Kennedy said.

The boys on Monday were ordered held in detention at the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center, prosecutor Lori Olender said.

The 17-year-old also faces a felonious assault charge from an unrelated shooting, Ms. Olender said. The teen allegedly shot Mark Bolling, 24, in the 600 block of Leonard Street in East Toledo on March 18.

Mr. Watts said one of the boys delivered a single blow to the back of his head during the incident Saturday, knocking the victim to the ground.

At one point, the victim recalled being lifted from the ground so one of the boys could "drop-kick" him in the chest.

One boy, he said, put his foot on the back of the victim's neck, with another shouting, "Kill him."

While Mr. Watts was down the boys kicked him, over and over, shouting, "[Get] that white [man]. This is for Trayvon ... Trayvon lives, white [man]. Kill that white [man]," according to a police report.

The boys fled when a man shouted at them, according to the report.

Mr. Watts said it's possible the assault was retribution for the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch captain in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Mr. Zimmerman has said he fired in self-defense and has not been charged with any crime.

For investigators, it's unclear whether the assault was motivated by an attempt to avenge the Martin youth's death or whether Mr. Watts' "Remember Trayvon" message was misinterpreted as threatening or racist.

"It's still up in the air who started the verbal confrontation," Sergeant Kennedy said, adding that stories given by the suspect and the victim conflict and the investigation is ongoing.

When asked about the Trayvon remarks, Mr. Watts said, "All I meant by saying 'remember Trayvon' is to remember what happened to him, don't duplicate it here," suggesting that he was minding his own business as he walked home.

"The only reason I mentioned Trayvon, that was my defense," Mr. Watts said. "Don't pick on me. I am not your enemy."

The assault occurred only a few hours after a peaceful rally, near the Thurgood Marshall Building, 420 E. Manhattan Blvd., to show support for the Martin family.

At his home Monday, Mr. Watts said he has never allowed weapons inside and that when his four children were growing up, they were not allowed to play "cops and robbers, to kill the Indians."

During the Vietnam War, Mr. Watts, who served in the military from 1950 to 1961, refused to let his boys play GI Joes.

There would be no more killing, he said.

But now, Mr. Watts says he plans to buy a gun and obtain a permit to carry it.

"What happened to me … down here on the corner, that changed my perspective on humanity," Mr. Watts said.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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