According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, four men between the ages of 18 and 21 are facing the possibility of life in prison due to federal hate crimes against gay men. The Texans allegedly posed as gay men on the dating app Grindr in order to rob and assault their victims.
The incident occurred in the victims’ homes, where the men (Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18) would arrange to meet their victims.
“Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants assaulted the victim, restrained the victim with tape, and made derogatory statements about the victim being gay,” says the report. “The defendants possessed a firearm during each home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.”
“Make sure a responsible person you trust knows who you’re meeting, where you’re going, and when you’re planning on coming back,” the Grindr app warns its users about safety.
The defendants have been charged with conspiracy, carjacking, kidnapping and possession of a firearm, and the hate crime carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.
“You can be scared as a homeowner if your neighbor is robbed,” said Jeanne Rubin, president of the North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “But it’s different if you feel like you’re being targeted for some reason and in this case a whole community can feel like they’re targeted.”