A 26-year-old man in Kansas City, Missouri, has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime after he shot a gay teen eight times after the boy made sexual advances toward him.
In a hearing at the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Malachi Robinson admitted using a gun to willfully injure the teen because of his sexual orientation on May 29, 2019.
"This attempted murder is a reminder that hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community are real and must be confronted," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "Violent acts targeting people based on their sexual orientation are heinous crimes that have no place in our country."
As part of a plea agreement entered into on Thursday, Robinson acknowledged that he met the teen, identified only in court documents as M.S., at a branch of the Kansas City Public Library, where the teen asked if he could add Robinson as a Facebook friend. Over Facebook Messenger, M.S. asked Robinson his sexual orientation and suggested they hook up in the library bathroom. Robinson said he wasn't gay, but agreed to receive oral sex outside the library in exchange for $5.
But unbeknownst to the teen, Robinson was emailing screenshots of the conversation to his girlfriend at the same time. "He tryna set me up on sumn now, gonna unfriend me," Robinson wrote to his girlfriend. "Might shoot this boy if he try some gay shit."
Later, Robinson suggested they walk to a wooded area nearby, but M.S. sought to leave the woods before any sex occurred. That's when Robinson pulled out a handgun and shot M.S. three times in the chest, three times in his right arm, once in his left buttocks, and once in his right hand, almost detaching his finger.
The teen spent roughly two weeks in a hospital and continues to receive treatment for his injuries.
After Robinson fled the scene, he admitted to his girlfriend and cousins that he had shot M.S. because the teen had tried "gay ass shit."
"I shot a nigga," he also wrote in a Facebook message a few days later to another person. "He was being gay af and following me like a mf."
Robinson was arrested on June 3, 2019, but not before he had searched online for coverage of the attack and made efforts to avoid capture by shaving off his Afro and trying to ditch his gun.
He also searched Google for, among other things, "How to know if the police are looking for you," "When will police arrest you after a murder," and "How to get away with murder in real life."
When Robinson is sentenced on Dec. 15, he could be sent to prison for life without parole.
A lawyer for Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 2009 federal law that Robinson admitted to violating was named in part for Wyoming 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death in 1998 because of his sexual orientation.
In October, the FBI said 20% of victims from the 8,052 hate crime incidents it recorded in 2020 were targeted because of their sexual orientation, while 2.7% were targeted because of their gender identity.