COMPTON, California (KTLA) — A Compton, California, man was arrested on suspicion of targeting and robbing more than 20 gay men he met on a dating app, authorities announced Tuesday.
Derrick Patterson, 22, is charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of robbery. He was taken into custody Monday by FBI agents.
The man has been tied to multiple robberies that happened between November 2019 and March 2022.
The robberies usually began the same way: Patterson would use the Grindr app to contact people, who he then met at their homes or hotel rooms, purportedly for sex, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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He would then pull out different weapons, like knives or a stun gun, and demand they hand over their wallets and cell phones, officials said.
“On other occasions, Patterson physically assaulted his victims,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
After the robberies, Patterson allegedly withdrew money from victims’ bank accounts or used their credit cards, officials said.
In one incident from September 2020, Patterson met one of his victims at a Los Angeles hotel and “while engaging in consensual sexual activity, took the victim’s phone. He then asked the victim for his password to access Apple Pay. When the victim refused and demanded his phone back, Patterson pulled out a taser and threatened him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Patterson allegedly activated the taser when the victim ran away. The victim later returned to the room to find Patterson gone, along with his wallet.
Police obtained a search warrant for Patterson’s phone number and were able to place him near the hotel’s location at the time of the robbery, as well as at another hotel nearby where a similar robbery was reported just two hours earlier, authorities said.
In another robbery from October 2020, Patterson reportedly stabbed a victim in the chest. That victim survived and was able to identify Patterson as his attacker, officials said.
The latest known robbery happened on March 26 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, according to authorities.
Patterson could face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or targeted by Patterson is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.