UPDATED | January 17, 2017 10:03 AM

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas police have released pictures of the two men they say are responsible for a vicious attack that has left a local 33-year-old actor and director fighting for his life.

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Today police reveled exactly what happened Saturday night when victim Derek Whitener arrived at a Target store in the 2400 block of Haskell Avenue, just off U.S. Highway 75.

Whitener had stopped by the store after a late night performance and was approached by two men near the entrance of the store. The encounter was so disturbing that Whitener reported the incident and the people he thought were suspicious to Target personnel.

An off-duty Dallas police officer and a store security guard approached the pair but one of the men walked away. The other man talked with authorities and was asked to leave the premises.

Despite the instructions from police, when Whitener walked out of the store the same men approached him. The pair made threats to Whitener and then beat him with a thick, wooden dowel.

Derek Whitener 1

People in the North Texas theater community are now rallying around their fellow actor. Whitener’s friends are raising money to help him recover. The 33-year-old is a well-known actor and director, with The Firehouse Theater in Farmers Branch. He remains in the ICU.

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Whitener’s friends, like Jason Leyva, say they can’t understand why the attack happened but they’re going to do what they can to help. “I felt very helpless and then just realized that we had the potential to do something beyond just speaking the message.”

Several theaters are now holding fundraisers for Whitener. And portions of the money from ticket sales at the Margo Jones Theatre Monday night were donated for his medical expenses.

Dallas police are now asking for help from the public to identify the suspects.

(credit: Dallas Police Department)

(credit: Dallas Police Department)

The first suspect is described as a Black male between 18 and 20 years old. He stands about 5’9 and weighs approximately 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket, black pants, black gloves, and carrying a black backpack. During the attack he wore a gorilla mask and was armed with a 3X1 wooden dowel.

(credit: Dallas Police Department)

(credit: Dallas Police Department)

The second suspect is described as a Black male between 18 and 20 years old. He also stands about 5’9” and weighs approximately 150 pounds. At the time of the assault this suspect was wearing a black hoodie with white lettering, red and blue jeans, white Nike shoes, and was carrying a black backpack. The second suspect also wore gorilla mask during Whitener’s attack.

Anyone with information about the attack on Whitener or who recognizes either of the suspects is asked to the contact Dallas police at 214-671-3639 or contact North Texas Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

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