A Salt Lake man who had a conversation on Grindr with another man early Friday morning says he feared for his life after being assaulted by the man, who he says tracked him down.
Steven Lopez said he began messaging people on Grindr at 1:30 in the morning on Friday, including one 35 feet away who went by the name “HngVers.”
“I messaged him and said, “Hey” as I was chatting with a couple of guys,” Lopez said. “He’d messaged before and we exchanged photos.”
He stopped messaging him, however, when he found another man to meet downtown.
“As I’m driving to the other guy’s house, he messaged me like six or seven times,” Lopez said. Because he was driving, he didn’t look at the messages as they came in.
Lopez met with the downtown man for only a brief time, and as he left he saw someone standing outside the man’s apartment.
“I walked out and saw this guy standing on the sidewalk, kind of pacing back and forth,” Lopez said. “I thought that was weird since it was 3:30 in the morning. It looked like he was waiting for someone.”
It turned out that “someone” was Lopez.
“I started walking towards my car and the guy started approaching me, faster and faster,” he said. “I thought this guy was trying to rob me.”
Lopez turned around and saw the guy’s face and says he recognized him as the guy he’d been chatting with earlier that night.
“He started screaming at me, ‘So, how was he?,'” Lopez said. “I said, ‘What the fuck, are you crazy? Did you follow me? What the Hell?'”
“I started to run to the car and he got me. He hit me from behind and I thought he was going to kill me because he choked me until I felt I was going to pass out,” Lopez alleged. “I fought for my life, screaming. He covered my mouth as he kept brutally attacking me.”
“I fought my way and was able to roll him around so I was on top of him,” Lopez continued. “He had his legs wrapped around me. I screamed ‘Why are you doing this?'”
Lopez said he had a choice — fight or run for his life. Since the assailant was able to overpower him again, he decided to run.
He ran back into the apartment building he’d just left and called 911 on his cellphone. The assailant didn’t follow, but Lopez said he could see him peering over a fence.
Police responded in three or so minutes, Lopez said. He spent three hours with them as they took photos and asked questions about the assault.
Lopez then called his mother in Idaho and went to a close friend’s house, fearing to return home. His mother drove 180 miles to meet his son in the hospital.
“It was one of the worst calls a mother could get,” she said.
She said that the doctor told her that her son had a concussion, contusions all over his face, and blood in the eye that may limit his eyesight in the future.
Lopez said he never gave the man his location, and had the location information turned off on the app. He is unsure how the man found where he had gone.
“I just want no one to go through what I just did with this man,” Lopez said about going public with his story.
If anyone knows more information about the Grindr profile
“HngVers,” they are asked to call Salt Lake City Police at 801-799-3000.