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Police Arrest Suspect in Three Gay Dating App-Related Shootings

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday August 26, 2020

Damarion Trammell Degrate
Damarion Trammell Degrate  (Source:Waco PD)

Police in Waco, Texas have arrested a suspect in a string of three shootings - one deadly - in which it seems that the victims were targeted and lured using a gay dating app, Newsweek reports.

Damarion Trammell Degrate, 17, was placed under arrest on Aug. 21, media sources reported. Though the app was not specifically named, Sgt. Peter Motley shared in a statement that "detectives established a link with all three shooting victims who used an online dating app primarily used by gay men," reported local newspaper the Waco Tribune.

All three shootings took place on the morning of Aug. 17, media sources reported.

The Waco Tribune detailed how the first victim was shot in the chest as he sat in his car shortly after midnight. A followup story in the Waco Tribune reported that according to an official document in the case, the first victim met Degrate at his home late on the night of Aug. 16. The two then drove to a different address and Degrate exited the vehicle, supposedly to obtain drugs. When he returned, however, he had a gun in his hand - and, the affidavit says, he "shot the victim in the chest at point-blank range."

The victim escaped in his car and headed for a filling station. He was subsequently taken to a hospital.

But the rampage continued, media reports said, with the suspect allegedly using the same app to contact and meet with a second victim a couple of hours later. That victim - a 23-year-old man - was also shot as he sat in his car. That man, Jonathan Breeding, also seemingly attempted to flee in his car after being shot; local news station KWTX reported that Breeding was found "unresponsive at the wheel of a car that crashed into a pole at around 1:40 a.m. Monday at North 34th Street and Brook Circle." Breeding later died in a hospital.

At 6:00 that morning, police found a third man who had been shot. That victim, too, had used the same dating app, media account reported.

The news stories said that the suspect has only been charged with one of the shootings so far, but the investigation is continuing. A search warrant was being sought to look into the contents of the suspect's phone.

Media accounts said that it's believed Degrate used a fake profile and a fake phone number in the commission of the crimes.

Sgt. Mottley advised gay app users to exercise particular caution, stating, "We strongly recommend arranging online dating meetings in public venues."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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