Columbus police say that the May deaths of a 62-year-old Westerville man and a 63-year-old Columbus man have been connected back to Grindr, a dating/pick-up app.
Columbus Police Sergeant James Fuqua held a press conference Thursday sharing that 19-year-old Talent A-Christian Bradley of Coshocton had been arrested by Westerville police on Wednesday. Bradley is believed to be responsible for the the May 26 death of Robert Goodrich in Westerville and Randy Gwirtz in Columbus, whose body was discovered on June 6 but is believed to have been murdered the same day as Goodrich.
“We can confirm that the suspect met both victims on a dating app,” said Fuqua. “The victims and suspect did not know each other prior to meeting on the app.”
Following the release of this news, BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) issued both a statement and a community alert.
“BRAVO is saddened to learn of these pick-up and bias related homicides. Dating should be fun and engaging, not life-threatening,” said Aaron Eckhardt, Director of BRAVO.. “These crimes underscore the importance of renewed conversation on hate and bias violence in the LGBTQ+ communities.”
The community alert (below) seeks to inform the public about “multiple reports of anti-LGBTQ+ pick-up related bias crimes,” and encourages individuals to contact BRAVO (614-294-7867) or the Columbus Division of Police (614-645-4545) if they have been the victim of, or are aware of, similar assaults.
During Thursday’s press conference, Sergeant Fuqua was asked by reporters why a public alert was not released to the community months ago when reports had surfaced regarding violence connected to the apps. Fuqua replied that the information was not fully available at the time.
“We could not confirm the nexus at that particular time,” said Fuqua. “Because of that, we would not want to state to anyone publicly to be careful on any particular dating app, or any patterns of behavior that they choose to engage in as an adult. If it were necessary and we felt the public at large was at extreme risk for this particular suspect to continue to engage in that activity, we would have put that [alert]out.”
Grindr issued a statement on Thursday, encouraging users to be safe while using the app:
“Grindr 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Users are encouraged to report criminal allegations to local authorities, and in these cases, we work directly with law enforcement as appropriate. Grindr publishes a Holistic Security Guide (available in multiple languages) to provide users with additional ways to stay safe online and in person.”
BRAVO notes that these are not isolated incidents, and encourages cooperation to eliminate future violence.
“Over the past few years at BRAVO we know hate and bias violence is increasing and we must call on all of our systems and communities to work together with renewed energy,” said Eckhardt.
- BRAVO encourages anyone who has experienced anti-LGBTQ violence in Ohio to contact them toll free at 866-86-BRAVO or text them at 614-333-1907, or visit their website (live web chat available) at http://www.bravo-ohio.org. To learn more about our statewide advocacy, survivor services, receive trainings, and/or support, contact BRAVO. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please visit www.ncavp.org.