Downtown Bookshop "Closed for Summer" After Owner Arrested Three Times in Three Weeks

John Francis
John Francis Dallas County Jail
Last Thursday morning, the Facebook page for downtown Dallas' Serj Books announced that the bookstore and coffee shop was closed for the summer.

"Do not look for us," the message said. "September is just days away. We love you all. Respect."

There may have been a reason the shop's owner, John Walsh, didn't want anybody looking for him. Since May 21, Dallas police have arrested Walsh on three occasions for four offenses, culminating in an arrest for aggravated sexual assault Thursday night. While little information is available about the alleged sexual assault — DPD policies restrict public access to police reports regarding sex crimes — arrest warrant affidavits from the two May incidents paint a picture of a man struggling.

Shortly after 2 a.m. May 21, Dallas Fire and Rescue personnel called Dallas police after Walsh became belligerent as they attempted to treat him after a car accident. When the police showed up, they found Walsh "yelling and cursing" at paramedics just outside the parking garage at the 1001 Ross apartment complex.

Witnesses told police they found Walsh passed out behind the wheel of his still-running 2012 BMW, which he'd crashed into the apartment complex's garage gate. After being woken up, witnesses told police, Walsh reversed his car off the garage ramp, drove around the parking lot, and parked across the street from the garage. When paramedics showed up and tried to treat Walsh, witnesses said, he drove his car back into the parking garage and removed his temporary license plates. Police later linked Walsh to the car through its vehicle identification number.

As police investigated the crash, Walsh alternated between shouting that he would kill the officers and crying and asking for sympathy, according to the affidavit. Officers, who felt he had "lost the normal use of his mental and physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol and/or dangerous drugs into his body," arrested Walsh, who told them he'd had nothing to drink except a few beers, which he didn't consider alcohol.

Police took Walsh to Baylor University Medical Center to have his blood drawn. Walsh paid his $500 bail and was released.

Six days later, Target employees called police after Walsh became irate while trying to return merchandise without a receipt. When an employee refused, Walsh said that "he had a gun and he wanted his fucking money," according to police. When a loss-prevention employee at the store told him to lower his voice, Walsh said, "I have a loaded gun and I will shoot you if you don't step back," before placing his hand on the small of his back as if he a gun tucked into his waistband.

As Walsh left the Haskell Avenue store's parking lot in his car, he threatened to shoot or harm several more people, at one point getting out of his car and pretending to get a gun out and place it in his waistband. Police arrested Walsh and charged him with two counts of making terroristic threats, a Class B misdemeanor. Walsh paid his $1,500 bail and got out of jail.

The coup de grâce for Serj came at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday from a woman who told police that Walsh sexually assaulted her in downtown Dallas. Police took the woman to Presbyterian hospital for an examination but are not releasing any more information about the incident. Walsh's bail is $100,000, and he remains in Dallas County Jail.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young