Online apps danger: El Campo man indicted in violent crime spree involving victims met on Grindr and Tinder

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — An El Campo man has been indicted in connection with eight violent robberies that targeted an Uber driver, a Door Dasher, and several men whom he met on Grindr, according to records.

Warren Oneal Johnson, 20, is charged with six aggravated robberies and two robberies causing bodily injury. He was arrested in June but indicted this month. The crimes took place in Houston and Harris County, with the bulk of them happening in the 700 block of Barren Springs Drive.

According to court records, Johnson and a 16-year-old juvenile accomplice committed five of the armed robberies in the same block in a three-day time span in March.

Johnson met three of the victims on dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder and lured them to vacant apartments on Barren Springs, records state, where he and the juvenile allegedly assaulted them, robbed them at gunpoint, and forced them to send hundreds of dollars to them via CashApp. Two other victims, an Uber driver and a Door Dasher who just happened to be on the street, were robbed and assaulted. One was strangled, records state. The Uber driver was forced to drive 86 miles to El Campo and back to north Harris County.

In a separate incident, Johnson allegedly attacked and choked a Galleria store employee in a mall parking garage elevator.

On June 20, court records show, Johnson, using Grindr, lured two men in separate incidents to a hotel room where he robbed them at knifepoint.

“It appears, based on the allegations, that the defendant could possibly be targeting certain populations, which gives this court concern, not only for the safety of the complainants (victims) but also the public,” the hearing officer said during Johnson’s first court appearance.

Grindr advertises as the “world’s largest social networking app for LGBTQ+” people.

“We really, really urge users, we’re not saying don’t use them. If you do use them, do not put your guard down. Be really vigilant and diligent before you meet anyone face to face,” Rania Mankarious, CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, warned. “You don’t want to walk into a potentially violent situation.”

If you are meeting with someone you’ve talked to through a dating app, here are a couple of safety tips:

  • Get to know someone by video chatting or researching them before meeting in person.
  • Meet in a public place.
  • Drive your own car.
  • Share your plans and even location with friends.

Johnson had to be reprimanded after an outburst in court. He was already under indictment for retaliation in Fort Bend County, court records show.

He remains in the Harris County jail on bonds totaling $400,000.

His court-appointed attorney did not respond to an ABC13 email requesting comment.

For more on this story, follow Jessica Willey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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