Nigel Garrett from Frisco, Texas has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for federal hate crime and conspiracy charges after he admitted to targeting gay men using the Grindr hook-up app.
Garrett and three accomplices, Anthony Shelton, Chancler Encalade Jr., and Cameron Ocion Ajiduah, had been charged hate crimes, kidnapping, carjacking and the use of a firearm to commit a crime. Garrett is the first to be sentenced via a plea deal. The three others also pleaded guilty and await sentencing for their part in the crimes.
According to the indictment, Garrett would meet gay men on Grindr and arrange to come to their homes where his accomplices would follow him in and tie up the victims, beat them, verbally abuse them with anti-gay language and rob them at gunpoint taking their valuables and automobiles.
The assaults took place during four home invasions in Plano, Frisco and Aubrey between January 17 and February 17, 2017. In May, a federal grand jury charged the four assailants. The indictment specified the victims were targeted for their sexual orientation.
“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,” acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said in a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
John Gore, acting assistant attorney general of the Civic 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.”