Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, were named in the indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday charging them with conspiring to cause bodily injury to people because of the sexual orientation.
According to the indictment, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7, 2017, the defendants committed home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas.
For each of the four home invasions, the defendants used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to falsely identify as a gay man and arrange to meet the victim at the victim's home.
Once inside, the defendants assaulted the victim, restrained the victim with tape, and made derogatory statements about their homosexuality.
The defendants had a firearm during each home invasion, and they stole the victim's property, including cars.
The North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Jeanne Rubin is glad to see a grand jury recognized the seriousness of the crimes.
"You can be scared as a homeowner if your neighbor is robbed, but it's different if you feel like you're being targeted for some reason and in this case a whole community can feel like they're targeted," said Rubin.
For the crimes, the defendants were charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of a firearm.
The hate crime counts carry a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison.
An indictment merely establishes probable cause, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.