A Missouri man was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison Thursday for a hate crime after shooting a gay teen in May 2019.
Malachi Robinson, 25, shot the teen, who is referred to as M.S. in court documents, eight times after meeting him at the Kansas City Public Library and luring him into the woods under the guise of looking for a place to engage in a sexual act, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.
On the day Robinson met M.S., who was 16 at the time, he messaged his girlfriend about M.S. and said, “He tryna set me up on sumn now, gonna unfriend him, might shoot this boy if he try some gay shit,” according to court documents.
In the days after the shooting, Robinson told a friend in a message that he had shot someone because “he was being gay af and following me like a mf,” according to court documents. Before his arrest on June 3, 2019, Robinson Googled phrases including “how to get away with murder in real life” and the victim’s name with the word “shot,” according to the documents.
M.S. was taken to a hospital in critical condition and remained hospitalized for two weeks. The department said he has suffered “long-term effects of the shooting,” including having to undergo multiple surgeries and physical therapy. He also still has several bullets inside of him, the attorney’s office said.
As part of a plea deal, Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of a hate crime involving an attempt to kill and was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison without parole, according to the plea.
“This defendant’s sentence holds him accountable for the violent and callous hate crime perpetrated against a defenseless teenager targeted because of their LGBTQ+ status,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release. “Recent FBI data makes clear that hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ+ community persist and this sentence should send a strong message to the perpetrators of these crimes that they will be held accountable.”
The FBI’s supplemental 2021 hate crime statistics found that hate crimes increased 11.6% nationally from 8,120 in 2020 to 9,065 in 2021. Out of over 10,500 single-bias incidents involving 12,411 victims, the majority — 64.5% — were targeted due to the offenders’ bias against their race, ethnicity or ancestry, followed by 15.9% who were targeted because of the offenders’ bias against their sexual orientation, 14.1% who were targeted because of the offenders’ bias against their religion, and 3.2% who were targeted due to the offenders’ bias against their gender identity.
Over the last two years, LGBTQ people, venues and events have increasingly become the targets of violence.
Earlier this month, a man was stabbed in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. LGBTQ venues, events and groups across the country — including a housing project for older adults in Boston — have been threatened or vandalized. And in November, a gunman killed five people at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colorado.