Real Estate

‘She just needs to be safe’

Lewisville woman lives in fear after being attacked by neighbors yelling anti-lesbian slurs

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor

Editor’s note: Because no charges have been filed against the suspects in this case, Dallas Voice is not publishing their names at this time.

A Lewisville woman is living in fear after a couple that lived in her apartment complex attacked her just outside her apartment about two weeks ago, according to her partner.

Valerie Cangro said her girlfriend, Antonia “Toni” Torres, is suffered a concussion in the attack and cannot remember much of what happened during the April 29 attack. But, Cangro added, neighbors who saw or heard all or part of the incident have helped fill in the gaps. She said that she is trying to help Torres in handling the situation, but is hampered by the fact that she lives in St. Louis and has been unable to come to Texas since the assault occurred.

Cangro said that Torres, who has lived at the Somerset Apartments in Lewisville for sometime “has had trouble with this particular couple since they moved in last November.”

She said in December, “things were so bad that every time [Torres] would come or go from the apartment, one of them [either the man or the woman who had been harassing her] would see her and start yelling at her, calling her ‘dyke’ and other things. Just harassing her all the time.”

And, she said, Torres was not the only resident who had a problem with the couple. “Several residents have had problems with these two. The management has gotten complaints by several of their neighbors, and some had even called the police about them,” Cangro said.

Management at the complex told Torres that “they would move her to another apartment, away from them, but they also told her they were working on getting rid of [the couple],” Cangro said. “Since they told her they were getting rid of them and since I am moving there in July and we’ll be moving into a larger apartment then, she said no. She would stay where she is for now.”

Cangro explained that moving now would mean Torres would either have to move twice, or she would have to move into a larger, more expensive apartment now, which isn’t feasible right now.

Cangro said the couple’s hostility and harassment turned to violence on the evening of Sunday, April 29. She said Torres had spent the evening at a neighbor’s apartment, “listening to music, dancing, eating and just having a good time.” She said she and Torres had chatted via video several times during the evening, and that about 10 p.m., Torres told Cangro she was heading back to her apartment to go to bed, and that she would talk to her the next day.

“So I went to bed. Then the phone rang, and her name and picture popped up on the phone. I thought, ‘She told me she was going to bed. Why is she calling me now?’

When she answered, Cangro said Torres asked to initiate a video chat, but first made her promise “not to freak out. She just kept saying, ‘Video chat me, but don’t freak out. The cops have already been called.’”

But when Torres answered the video chat, Cangro said she was horrified at what she saw: “She was covered in blood. They had beat the hell out of her, and she was covered in blood.”

Cangro said that based on what little Torres could remember of the attack combined with statements from an upstairs neighbor who heard the incident unfold and another neighbor who saw at least part of it and was himself assaulted by another man accompanying the couple, the suspects came to Torres’ apartment and intiated the assault for no reason.

The neighbor Torres had been visiting had insisted on walking Torres back to her apartment because of the problems she had been having with the couple, Cangro said. He waited until Torres had gone inside and shut her door before starting back to his apartment.

Cangro said the upstairs neighbor told her he heard the couple began knocking loudly on Torres’ door. He heard her open the door, and he heard the couple begin yelling at her.

“He heard Toni tell them to go away and leave her alone. He heard her tell them to get off her porch, and he heard Toni tell the other woman,

‘Don’t shove me. Don’t hit me.’ He heard her say it at least twice,” Cangro said.

“They were trying to get into Toni’s apartment,” Cangro continued. “They were shoving her and trying to get in. Finally, Toni shoved back and that’s when [the upstairs neighbor] heard the man tell Toni, ‘Don’t put your hands on my old lady.’ Toni said, ‘She hit me first,’ and he told her,

‘That’s your problem, not mine.’”

As the confrontation escalated, Cangro said, the man and the woman managed to pull Torres out of her apartment and knock her to the ground.

The man put his foot on Torres’ leg to hold her down while the woman continued to attack her.

She said that while the man held Torres down — yelling things like “You think you’re a man” and “You want to act like a man and dress like a man,” and calling her a dyke and other insults — the woman continued to hit and kick Torres in the face and head and ribs.

“[The woman] was beating the crap out of Toni,” Cangro said. “All she could do was just cover her face. She really thought she was going to die that night.”

In the meantime, Cangro said, the neighbor — a black man — who had walked Torres home heard the commotion and had returned. When he tried to go to her aid, a second man — perhaps a relative of the first, Cangro said — grabbed him by the throat and held him against a wall, using racially-charged language to threaten him.

Finally, Cangro said, the attack stopped. The neighbor ran for his home, worried that the couple might target his family, and Torres was able to get inside her apartment and call Cangro.

“But Toni doesn’t remember if they [the assailants] went into her apartment at all or not. All she does know for sure is that her glasses are missing,” Cangro said.

Capt. Chris Butterworth with the patrol division of the Lewisville Police Department confirmed this week that officers had responded to the incident on April 29, and that “a police report was taken.” He said the report has been assigned to a detective in the Criminal Investigations

Division’s crimes against persons squad.

Dallas Voice has contacted officials in that division for comment, but as of press time Thursday, May 10, we have not heard back from them.

Cangro said that the Lewisville police detective assigned to the case had emailed a photo of the couple, taken from the woman’s Facebook profile, to Torres, commenting that they “just don’t look like the kind of people who would do something like that.”

Cangro said that after the attack, management at the apartment complex had moved Torres to a guest suite at a sister complex in Carrollton for a week. She returned to her own apartment in Lewisville last weekend, Cangro said, and friends have been staying with her at night to help make sure she is safe.

“She is just scared to death to be by herself at home,” Cangro said.

Cangro said that the couple who attacked Torres moved out of the complex that same weekend, but that the man’s pickup truck, which is “broken down and not running,” was still parked there, making Torres concerned that one or both of her assailants could return at any time.

Cangro also said that Torres has no idea what, other than the fact that she is gay, made the couple target her. “There’s nothing. Toni is a very quiet person. She keeps to herself, and she gets along with all her neighbors,” Cangro said.

Even though Torres works two jobs, she has no insurance, Cangro said, “so we’ve had to start a GoFundMe page to try to pay her medical bills and replace her glasses.”

She also noted that Torres’ two grandchildren, ages 12 and 14, live in the same apartment complex and often visit her. “And she’s scared for them, too. She’s a 52-year-old woman who takes care of herself and doesn’t bother anybody. And now she’s scared all the time. She’s scared for herself and for her grandchildren.

“She just needs to be safe.”

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