More single people meet through Internet dating websites and apps today than any other way. Communicating through technology often gives a false sense of safety due to the ease with which one can text and send photos. It is often seen as a benign way to meet someone, but with two recent incidents in Port Washington in just over 24 hours, the reality of just how dangerous a stranger can be hit home for two male victims.
The first victim received an invitation, through a dating app, to meet a female in Port Washington on Nov. 30. They scheduled the meeting on Charles Avenue, which is a dimly lit dead-end street off Harbor Road, at 8:30 p.m. After the male and female met, the victim was then ambushed and struck in the head with a baseball bat by another male, allegedly working in collusion with the female. Once he fell to the ground, the assailants robbed him of property and fled the scene. The victim received 60 stitches in his head at North Shore Plainview Hospital. He did not report the incident to the Port Washington police until the next evening on Dec. 1.
Due to the victim not coming forth until the next day, the alleged perpetrators believed that they had escaped any consequences related to the brutal assault from the previous evening. The female assailant reached out to yet another male through the dating app to meet her at 10:30 p.m. on the same dark and secluded dead-end street as before. The second victim met the female and then was surrounded by several males. A male struck the second victim with a baseball bat and then the other assailants joined in the violence with their baseball bats, beating the victim and stealing his cell phone. The assailants fled the scene and the victim stumbled down to an area of Middle Neck Road. A good Samaritan, who was passing by in a vehicle, saw the bloodied and disoriented figure struggling to walk and called 911.
The second victim, upon being transferred to the hospital, was treated for a fractured skull, broken nose and multiple other injuries.
According to Deputy Chief Robert Delmurro, a police officer interviewed victim number two at the hospital. Through quick thinking and his familiarity with the community, he was able to identify a suspect. The police officer then worked diligently with detectives to pursue the arrest and make the big break in the case that led to apprehending the female, Amaia Thompson, age 16, Melvin Whitehead, age 17, and a male juvenile, age 15. They were charged with first degree robbery and first degree gang assault.
Delmurro stated, “I am so proud of our police officers and detectives who worked in unison on this case to bring it to a successful close.”
Dating apps, like Tinder, have an age restriction of 18, however, it is estimated that 7 percent of its users are underage. Though the victims in this case endured a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, they are alive. Some victims aren’t so lucky, as in the case of the 13-year-old girl who was abducted, allegedly, by a Virginia Tech student and then murdered. It is believed that they met through the app Kik or a Facebook group. There are no checks and balances on most dating apps or sites and they are to be used at the visitor’s own risk.
Police Commissioner Angela Mullins would like for everyone to keep the following tips in mind when meeting an Internet date: “Always meet at a public place, stay in the public place, tell a friend where you are, stay sober, drive yourself to and from the meeting and keep your personal items with you at all times.”
Most of all, Mullins would like to emphasize that you should “trust your intuition, you can never be too careful.”