During a press conference on Wednesday, officials from the Atlanta Police Department shared a description of one suspect and outlined what they know about the recent pattern at this stage in their investigation.
“From February to May, we have had eight instances where male victims were lured to remote locations by the use of the Grindr app,” Sgt. Rodney Jones of the APD’s Robbery Unit told reporters, as seen in the video up top. “The suspect would use the Grindr app to exchange with and identify victims trying to lure them to a dating location. After the date concludes, the suspect would then rob the victim, often taking wallets, keys, or even vehicles.”
Jones said the robberies have occurred in the Zone 1 region, which encompasses the northwest side of the city, as well as the southern Zone 3 region. At this time, a single suspect is believed to be responsible for the robberies in Zone 1. The suspect is “not typically as violent with the date but then it becomes violent after the fact.” In Zone 3, police said, there are possibly two or more suspects.
Speaking on what’s known of one suspect, Jones said “the description entails a dark-complected African American male in his late teens [or] early 20s.” Jones added that he’s approximately 5′11″ or 6 feet in height with a “slim but muscular build.”
As seen in a local CBS report below, police have also shared footage of a suspect getting into a victim’s car before stealing it at gunpoint. They also shared two photos used by a suspect, or multiple suspects, on the app. Police later noted, however, that the photos did not actually show the suspect.
Speaking later during Wednesday’s press conference, Eric King—the APD’s LGBTQIA liaison—urged the public to “listen to your inner voice” when using dating apps.
“If you are trying to FaceTime somebody or get an address and they’re kind of hesitant and they give you a location of a cemetery or some place you don’t know, take that as a sign,” King said. “Get a physical address. Get a name. Also ask your friends if they’ve seen this person before. We’ve all been catfished before. … But we definitely don’t want to [see people] continue to be victimized routinely by a person or group of individuals.”
Complex has reached out to a rep for the Atlanta Police Department for additional comment.
When reached on Thursday, a spokesperson for Grindr offered the following:
“We are always saddened to hear about difficult experiences our community members have both online and offline. Grindr publishes a holistic security guide that is available in multiple languages. Grindr also encourages users to be careful when interacting with people they do not know and to report improper or illegal behavior either within the app or directly via email to email@example.com. Users are encouraged to report criminal allegations to local authorities, and in these cases, we work directly with law enforcement as appropriate.”