MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – An online hangout turned violent for one Memphis teen after he says he was robbed at gunpoint.
This all happened over a month ago, and Memphis police say no arrests have been made yet. Luckily, the victim in this investigation was not hurt, but local experts in our community say it’s important to take risk-reducing steps when meeting in person with someone you met online.
According to a report filed with Memphis police, the 19-year-old victim says after chatting with a girl who called herself Kashmir on the dating app “BLK,” he was robbed.
“The onus of this situation is on the person who is doing the harm and we do have to remember that, because it’s easy to think about what the victim was or wasn’t doing in this case. But really it’s about the offender and why they chose to use violence in this situation,” said Sandy Bromley, the director of Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center.
According to the report, on Dec. 16, Kashmir and three other suspects picked the victim up near Elmwood Park Street in a dark-colored Nissan SUV.
The victim told police he felt uncomfortable with the three extra people in the car, which were two female suspects and one male suspect. He even told detectives that one male and one female suspect wore ski masks.
The victim says they were supposed to go to a friend’s house in Cordova but began to notice the vehicle was not going in the right direction. He also says the suspects began asking him questions as if they were trying to distract him.
The car stopped in the area of North Perkins and Charleswood. The report says that’s when the male suspect pointed a weapon at the victim, took his iPhone 13, some cash, and a wallet. The suspects then let the victim out of the car.
Bromley says this is a reminder to put risk-reduction techniques to use when planning to meet someone you only know online.
“Maybe even share your cell phone location or something,” said Bromley. “Drop a pin to let folks know where you’re going to be so they can keep up with your activity as well. And that’s just really for safety reasons. We never know what to expect. We can anticipate it being the best date of our lives, but we just never know.”
Memphis police shared these tips on how to stay safe when meeting someone from online in-person:
- Do your homework on the person before you meet with them.
- If you plan to meet in person, make sure it’s in public.
- Make sure you have your own transportation.
- If something feels wrong, trust your gut and be safe.
The Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center also has resources for crime victims. You can call them at 901-222-4350.
If you have any information on the suspects involved, call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.