Man jailed for 15 years after using Grindr to carry out violent homophobic attack
A man has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars on hate crime charges after using Grindr to seek out and attack gay men.
Nigel Garrett, 21, of Texas, was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison for assaulting a man because of the victim’s sexual orientation.
Prosecutors believe that Garrett and three other men used Grindr to find a victim, using a fake profile to arrange a hook-up at the victim’s home.
The gun-toting homophobes then turned up at the victim’s home before overpowering him, tying him up with tape, physically assaulting him, and screaming anti-gay slurs.
They proceeded to ransack the property, before making a getaway with the victim’s valuables and motor vehicle.
According to the plea agreement, “Garrett admitted that he, Anthony Shelton, and Chancler Encalade used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to arrange to meet the victim at the victim’s home.
“Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants restrained the victim with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and made derogatory statements to the victim for being gay. The defendants brandished a firearm during the home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.”
Because Texas does not have hate crime laws protecting gay people, he faced a federal hate crime conviction under the The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which allows the Justice Department to target criminals in states with no such protections.
The law was signed into law by President Obama, and ironically Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General and head of the Justice Department, voted against the legislation in Congress.
A federal grand jury previously had returned an eighteen-count superseding indictment, against Garrett, Shelton, Encalade and Cameron Ajiduah, that included charges for hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings, and the use of firearms to commit violent crimes.
The indictment also charged the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily injury because of the victims’ sexual orientation during four home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, from January 17 to February 7, 2017.
Anthony Shelton, Chancler Encalade, and Cameron Ajiduah subsequently pleaded guilty to hate crime charges from this indictment, and all three await sentencing.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division said: “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.
“The Department of Justice is committed to using every tool at its disposal to combat this type of violence.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said: “Violence, in any form, is an affront to the American principles of freedom and safety that our communities are entitled to.
“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.”
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Plano Police Department, and the Frisco Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.