HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man attacked and then robbed at a hotel on Houston's south side said he believes he was targeted because of his sexuality.
"In my social circle, it's kind of hard to find people to meet that you connect with sometimes," the victim, who asked to remain unidentified, said, speaking only with Eyewitness News.
That's the reason he said he didn't hesitate to meet up with a man he matched with on Grindr - an app for LGBTQ dating and hookups. He said he'd never felt unsafe using it frequently in the past.
"A good 50, 40 times, maybe, over the last 10 years. Ten to 15 years," he said.
That safety streak ended when he met up with a man on Feb. 9. Security cameras at a motel near Main and the 610 Loop captured images of him leaving the room after he was accused of attacking and robbing the victim. He recounted the moment he realized a date with one man turned out to be a set-up involving two.
"I felt the first punch, which kind of made me laugh," he said. "No one has ever actually attacked me before. It's weird. Then, he just kept going and going. Next thing you know, I feel my wallet being taken out of my pocket. They keep going. I'm trying to fight back. By the end of it, they grab me by my neck."
The victim managed to escape, run out of the room, and call the police. The suspect, who's facing robbery charges, fled before officers arrived. It's not clear if those charges could be upgraded in this case based on the victim's sexuality, but he said it's something he thinks about when replaying the trauma.
"I do, big time. I could be dead. I really was thinking about that. At first, it didn't feel like he wanted to stop choking me. I almost felt like he wanted to kill me. I was terrified at that moment. I've never been terrified like that in my life," the victim said.
That fear hasn't stopped him from dating on Grindr. The company hasn't responded to ABC13's request for information about safety on the app, but their published safety tips advise people meeting for the first time to go some place public.
The victim said he worried about the man using the app to target more people.
"They can do this to anybody else, and I'm not a very easy person to take down," he said. "For them to do this to me, that means they can take down anybody else."
In this case, there's a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers of Houston or the Houston Police Department Robbery Division.
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