Last year, four men pleaded guilty to robbing and assault gay men they found on the social media app Grindr. Now, one of the perpetrators, Nigel Garrett, pictured at left, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to the DOJ official website, Garrett admitted to the crime as part of a plea agreement. He said the group found men on the app and entered their homes with the purpose of hurting them. The victims were restrained with tape, physically assaulted, and mocked for their sexual orientation. Property and motor vehicles were stolen by the group, who threatened the victims with firearms.
Anthony Shelton (pictured at rigth), Chancler Encalade, and Cameron Ajiduah are the other three men named as perpetrators. An eighteen count indictment was issued against the four. Charges included hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings, and the use of firearms to commit violent crimes. The four home invasions occurred in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, between January 17 and February 7, 2017.
“Hate crimes are an attack on a fundamental principle of the United States to be free from fear of violence because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to using every tool at its disposal to combat this type of violence.”
“Violence, in any form, is an affront to the American principles of freedom and safety that our communities are entitled to,” added Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “The Department of Justice has made prosecution of violent crime a priority. The Eastern District of Texas, in prosecuting this case and others like it, intends to demonstrate that this priority is something more than just a slogan.”
- “You can be scared as a homeowner if your neighbor is robbed, 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," said North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Jeanne Rubin, commenting on the case.
According to Statesman.com, the other three implicated in the case are still awaiting sentencing.