(EDGE) A federal grand jury indicted four Texas men Wednesday with federal hate crime and conspiracy charges for using the gay hook-up app Grindr to target victims for home robbery.
According to the 18 count indictment, Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, committed four home invasions from January 17 to February 7, 2017 in the Dallas suburbs of Plano, Frisco and Aubrey.
In each case, the victims were targeted by the defendants who falsely posed as a gay man on Grindr looking to meet up at the victims' homes.
However in each case, according to KTXS News, when the victim answered the door, instead of one hook-up, four armed men showed up. The victims were restrained with tape and assaulted both physically and with anti-gay slurs while the men ransacked their homes. In one instance, a car was stolen.
The men were charged with 18 federal counts that include kidnapping, carjacking, conspiracy and possession a firearm.
Dallas News reports that the hate crimes carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as police departments in Plano and Frisco.
Local news station CBS DFW spoke with North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Jeanne Rubin who was glad to see a grand jury recognize the seriousness of the crimes.
"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 Rubin.