Courts

Hate Crime: Dallas Men Used Grindr to Rob, Attack and Taunt Gay Men

Four Dallas men have pleaded guilty in connection to a plot in which they attacked gay men they met on Grindr
Four Dallas men have pleaded guilty in connection to a plot in which they attacked gay men they met on Grindr Michael Spasari, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Daniel Jenkins and three others came up with a plan, according to court documents. They used Grindr, a dating app mostly used by gay men, to find their targets. Then, they robbed and attacked the men they courted.

Jenkins, a 22-year-old Dallas resident, was the last of four men to plead guilty to charges related to the plot, according to the FBI field office in Dallas. He pleaded guilty to several charges: one count of a hate crime, one count of a hate crime conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and using a firearm during a violent crime.

The crimes took over the course of one week in December 2017, when Jenkins and the others invited men they met on Grindr to an empty apartment in Dallas.

The four men held their victims at gunpoint, robbed them, lugged them to ATMs to withdraw cash and mocked them with homophobic slurs, according to court documents. They “physically injured at least one victim,” according to the FBI.


Now, Jenkins faces the prospect of up to 26 years in prison. His sentencing is to take place on Oct. 6.

Michael Atkinson, another man charged in relation to the plot, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in March 2019, the FBI said. Another two conspirators, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges in December 2019.

Atkinson, Henry and Ceniceros-Deleon will be sentenced on June 23.

"In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online." - Prerak Shah, Acting U.S. Attorney

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“These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation,” Prerak Shah, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement.

"We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked. The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes," Shah said. "In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online."


FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said investigating hate crimes remains “one of the FBI’s highest priorities.”

“No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe,” DeSarno said in the statement.

“We will continue working with our law enforcement and community partners to detect and prevent violent incidents motivated by hate or bias," he said. "We also urge the public to report any suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.”

It wasn’t the only time attackers have used Grindr to target gay men. Last summer in Louisiana, 19-year-old Chance Seneca met 18-year-old Holden White on the app and then invited him over to play video games. He allegedly used the opportunity to brutally beat White, leaving him in a coma for three days, according to NBC.

Seneca was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder, and a hate crime charge was later added.

The FBI hasn’t yet released its hate crime tally for 2020. In 2019, the bureau documented 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 related offenses, bringing the total to the highest level in more than a decade. Of that total, more than 16% involved victims being targeted for their sexual orientation.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.