Grindr Robbery Suspect Arrested After Allegedly Targeting 21 Gay Men

Derrick Patterson, 22, was arrested Monday on a federal robbery charge and faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison

A Compton man accused of targeting and robbing at least 21 men he met on gay dating app Grindr has been taken into custody, authorities announced Tuesday.

Patterson is also accused of threatening to “fry” one victim’s dog.

FBI agents arrested Derrick Patterson, 22, on Monday in Inglewood on a federal robbery charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Patterson has been connected to at least 21 robberies that took place between November 2019 and March 2022 in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, according to a 38-page criminal affidavit written by FBI agent George Maloney and obtained by Los Angeles.

Many of the robberies had a similar pattern: Patterson would find a victim on Grindr then meet with them either at their home or at hotel rooms, purportedly for sex. He would then threaten the victim with a weapon—gun, knife, or taser—and demand money and their cell phones before fleeing the scene. During some altercations, he physically assaulted the victims, and in an alarming incident, he was able to convince a victim’s parents to send him $700 by pretending to be their son.

(U.S. District Court)

The first robbery occurred on November 3, 2019 at a residence on 120th Street in Los Angeles. When the victim invited Patterson to his bedroom, he immediately asked for money. The man offered Patterson $20. But when he refused to give him more money, Patterson allegedly sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, hit him in the face with the can, grabbed him by the neck, punched him in the face multiple times, and then pepper-sprayed him again, according to the documents.

In an incident on September 27, 2020, Patterson met another man—who he agreed to have sex with—at his residence on Beachwood Drive in L.A. Patterson asked to use the victim’s phone so he could watch heterosexual pornography in order to get an erection for their encounter, according to the affidavit. Patterson used the phone for roughly 30 minutes before telling the man to hide in the bathroom so he could take a phone call. When the man refused, they got into an argument, which quickly escalated into a fight.

The man then called the police and Patterson cut the victim in the chest area with a knife he’d grabbed from the kitchen. He demanded money again and the victim gave him $200 via Cash App. Shortly after he left the residence, Patterson messaged the victim saying, “I apologize for all that bro I’m not that type of person. U just pissed me off didn’t hide in my gurl was trippin.”

During an October 2020 robbery on Wilcox Avenue in L.A., Patterson demanded money and threatened to use a taser on a victim. When the victim attempted to let his dog out for protection, Patterson allegedly said, “Bring that dog here and I’m gonna fry him.”

The victim sent Patterson money via Apple Pay and eventually fled his own apartment to get away from him. Patterson, however, followed the victim into the middle of the street, screaming obscenities at him, before returning to the residence to steal the man’s property. An Amazon security camera in the kitchen captured Patterson rummaging through the apartment and removing items from the victim’s home.

(U.S. District Court)

A couple weeks later, Patterson threatened another victim with a taser at the man’s home on Reading Avenue in L.A.

“I’m not leaving here without any money,” Patterson told the man, who asked him to leave when he realized that he was not the same person shown on his Grindr profile. “You made me drive here for nothing.”

Patterson then grabbed the man by his shirt and took him into his bedroom.

The terrified man was able to break free and go into the bathroom where he called the police. Meanwhile, Patterson rummaged through his belongings and then fled the residence. Officers found Patterson hiding under a vehicle, but he ran away. After an exhaustive search, a police dog found Patterson in the victim’s front yard, and the LAPD arrested him.

He was carrying two $20 bills and a $5 bill, which was consistent with cash taken from the victim’s home. Officers also located a stun gun near the spot where Patterson was found.

Patterson was subsequently released from custody and posecutors declined to pursue a case against him “due to insufficient evidence,” Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, told the Los Angeles Times.

The victim believed “Patterson is targeting gay men and that he is a victim of a hate crime,” Maloney wrote.

During his final known robbery on March 26, 2022 at a hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, Patterson—who was wearing a black face mask during the encounter—asked the man for his cell phone so he could watch pornography. While using the phone, Patterson locked himself out several times, which the man believed Patterson was doing intentionally to learn his four-digit passcode, since it was the same code the victim used for his online banking, according to the affidavit.

Patterson then took the man’s wallet and threatened him, saying, “I will hurt you,” and, “I will shoot you.”

The victim was able to escape the hotel room and call the police, but by the time he used a laptop to access the “Find my iPhone” app, Patterson had already changed the phone number associated with his account. Patterson had also made multiple transactions using the victim’s Venmo and Zelle accounts, and had attempted withdrawing money from the man’s bank account.

Officials were able to uncover about 300 photos and videos apparently taken by Patterson through the iCloud account of one of his victims, The Times reports. Among the images were photos of social security cards belonging to other victims and a strange driver’s license photo of Patterson, which showed him with a black eye, a bandage on his forehead, and blood on the collar of his hooded sweater.

Officials said Patterson could face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

The FBI investigated the case with help from the Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or targeted by the defendant is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.

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