A Dallas man is going to jail for kidnapping gay men he met online.
24-year-old Michael Atkinson has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy charges after he used Grindr to kidnap and assault gay men, according to CBS’s Dallas affiliate CBSDFW.COM.
Atkinson’s plea papers say that he joined a conspiracy on December 11, 2017, to lure gay men found online to different areas in Dallas. He would then commit crimes like robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes.
It was Atkinson who reached out to his co-conspirators to join the crime spree. He then escalated the situation by bringing a loaded handgun to a vacant apartment where he lured several victims. He even allowed one other person to use the handgun to hold victims in the apartment against their will.
“Michael Atkinson targeted the victims in this case because of their sexual orientation. Hate crimes affect not only the victims, but also have a devastating impact on their families and an entire community,” said Michael Schneider, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Division.
Once he arrived at the apartment, Atkinson learned that one co-conspirator had sexually assaulted some of the captive victims, according to Dallas News. Atkinson then decided to stay on with the group, whose numbers are still unspecified.
Atkinson also shares that he and another co-conspirator took one of the victims to his home in order to steal from the property. He also says that he was witness to a co-conspirator assaulting one victim while calling him gay slurs. Lastly on the list of Atkinson’s crimes, he admits to using local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts.
In response to all of his crimes, Atkinson is facing a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison for kidnapping and five years in prison for conspiracy. In addition, he could be fined up to $250,000 for each offense.