For several weeks, four men used the social-media app Grindr to lure gay men into divulging their home addresses. Then they barged in, tied their victims up with tape, assaulted them, and spat out gay slurs.
On Monday, the last two of those men were sentenced to prison time after admitting their part in the crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Anthony Shelton, 20, and Cameron Ajiduah, 19, were sentenced to 20 and 15 years in prison, respectively. Two other defendants, Nigel Garrett, 21, and Chancler Encalade, 20, were previously sentenced to 15 years and 10 years, respectively.
“For each of the four home invasions, the defendants used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to falsely identify as a gay man and arrange to meet the victim at the victim’s home,” the Justice Department said in a press release. “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. The defendants possessed a firearm during each home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.”
The men were together charged in four separate similar home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas. They all pleaded guilty to the crimes, which took place from Jan. 17 through Feb. 7, 2017.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate any act of violence targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, disability, or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department will continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes cases.”
“This case highlights the danger of the internet and specifically, online apps,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown for the Eastern District of Texas. “In this case, the defendants misused the internet for sinister purposes in order to target an innocent man based on his sexual orientation, causing him bodily harm and damage to his property.”