A Michigan man was charged Friday for allegedly shooting two men he contacted through a dating app “before they were gay.”
Demetris Nelson, 26, was charged with several crimes, including first-degree murder, after allegedly trying to rob and fatally shoot Brian Anderson, 31, and critically wounding 26-year-old Malcolm Drake, Wayne County prosecutor’s office said. Authorities say Nelson used the popular dating app, Grindr, to target and locate the two men.
If convicted, he faces up to life in prison for the murder charge.
“To some, this will be just another hateful and violent act in America. They will read about this case and continue to go about their day. To me, that is quite tragic,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege on July 6, Nelson used the app to “targeted Anderson and Drake because they were gay.” The pair were driving along a highway less than a mile from Nelson’s Detroit home, prosecutors during Nelson's arraignment Friday, when the 26-year-old got into the back of the vehicle. After announcing a robbery, Nelson shot Drake in the back of the head, then fatally shot Anderson.
"We are saddened and outraged by this despicable crime. This case is just the most recent example of how members of Detroit's LGBTQ community are too often targets of violence," Alanna Maguire, president of the Fair Michigan Foundation, a nonprofit civil rights group assisting in the investigation, said in a statement.
Nelson set up a series of social networking profiles, including Grindr, with the intent on finding victims and is being investigated in a series of other similar incidents, prosecutors said in court Friday.
According to WXYZ, the July 6 incident might be Nelson's latest series of incidents involving people he met on online dating apps. Nelson, who allegedly uses different profiles and aliases to avoid being caught, allegedly robbed another victim two hours before he fatally shooting the two Detroit men.
On Friday evening, a judge ordered Nelson to be held without bail. He is expected in court on July 26.