WACO, Texas — Online dating is common these days, but sometimes it has its dark side. That is why LGBTQ leaders from Waco Pride Network have warned people to be safe.
This comes after a man was charged with murder and named as a suspect in two other shootings that seemed to target victims he met on the dating app Grindr.
Research shows 40 million Americans use dating apps to find relationships. This research showed that Texas is the eighths most dangerous state for online dating.
On Grindr, there are about 3.6 million men who use the app every day.
"It is for gay men. It is where people meet. I believe it shows your location so it will tell you this person is three miles or five miles away,” Waco Pride Network Board member Jenni Hopkins said. “For me, that is already dangerous, but not everybody feels that way. They just want to meet someone. They want to make a connection."
Damarion Degrate was arrested Monday in Fort Worth and charged with the August 17 murder of Jonathan Breeding in Waco. Breeding was one of three people police believe Degrate shot that night. Police said he met the victims using Grindr.
Police are still investigating why he used the app to shoot the victims and are warning people to be safe.
"The big thing is you're meeting up with people on these dating apps you really don’t know,” Waco Police Department Public Information Officer Garen Bynum said. “Be in a public place where there are plenty of people around and there's less opportunity for crime."
Waco Pride Network said they were heartbroken when they heard about the shootings. They said sometimes members of the LGBTQ community are targeted on dating apps. That is why they recommend safety calls when going on dates.
"I used to go as far as have people take pictures of their driver’s license,” Hopkins said. “I want people to understand that we would rather stay up until 3 o'clock in the morning to call you and make sure you're okay, then to hear that you are dead."
Degrate was not charged for the third shooting but he is the primary suspect.
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