Texan Gets 15 Years for Assaulting Gays via Grindr

Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

A Texas man, convicted of using a social media dating app to purposely target and assault gay men, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by federal authorities.

Nigel Garrett, 21, was one of four Dallas area male suspects accused last year of using the online gay dating network Grindr to target, assault, berate, restrain, and rob homosexual victims in North Texas over a three week period from January 17, 2017 to February 7, 2017.  Previously, prosecutors charged him and the other assailants with federal hate crimes and conspiring to cause bodily injury.

In a joint statement, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Dallas Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas announced that Garrett was sentenced Wednesday to serve 15 years in federal prison for his role in assaulting a man based on the victim’s sexual orientation.

“Violence, in any form, is an affront to the American principals of freedom and safety that our communities are entitled to,” said Brit Featherston, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. “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.”

On May 10, 2017, a federal grand jury returned an 18-count superseding indictment against Garrett and three other men. It alleged the defendants arranged to meet a victim at the victim’s home and upon entering the victim’s home, the accused restrained the victim and covered his eyes with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and called the victim derogatory names for being gay. It also alleged that the defendants brandished a firearm during the home invasion, stealing property from the victim, including his motor vehicle.

The indictment charged Garrett and co-conspirators Anthony Shelton, 19; Chancler Encalde, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18; with federal hate crimes and conspiracy to cause bodily injury to persons. It also included charges for kidnapping, carjacking, and firearm possession in relation to the committing the crimes. These incidents occurred in three suburbs north of Dallas – Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey.

In August, Garrett and Adijuah pleaded guilty for their roles under the federal hate crime statute. “Garrett and Ajiduah invaded homes, robbed and assaulted their victims, and particularly horrendous, targeted their victims based on the victim’s sexual orientation,” said Featherston at the time. “In response to such a hate crime, let it be known that law enforcement will leave no stone unturned to catch and prosecute the likes of these criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”

The third defendant, Encalde, pleaded guilty in September followed by Shelton, the fourth man convicted of these crimes. He pleaded guilty in October. While Garrett received his punishment this week, the other three defendants await sentencing.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive, plus the Plano and Frisco police departments conducted the investigation on this case.

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