18-year sentence for luring men into robbery ambushes via Grindr

Trenell Kirkman pleaded guilty in five robbery cases. | CPD; Handout

A man who allegedly used the Grindr gay hookup app to lure men into robbery ambushes with an accomplice has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in five separate attacks.

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Trenell Kirkman, 30, pleaded guilty to four counts of armed robbery and one count of attempted armed robbery in a plea deal with prosecutors. Judge Earl Hoffenberg sentenced Kirkman to 18 years for each of the completed robberies and 15 years for the attempt. The terms will be served concurrently, giving Kirkman a projected parole date of Oct. 28, 2026.

Prosecutors said Kirkman and 28-year-old Stephen Jackson used the Grindr app to draw at least nine victims into armed robbery traps in the Rogers Park neighborhood during October 2017. Chicago police eventually caught Kirkman and Jackson in a sting operation, according to court records.

Jackson and Kirkman used Grindr to draw men into a gangway on the 7600 block of North Bosworth where they then held each victim at gunpoint and robbed them, police said.

Prosecutors dropped multiple felony counts of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated unlawful restraint as part of their agreement with Kirkman.

Jackson is due back in court on Dec. 23.

Prison time for Lincoln Park 7-Eleven heists

Two men have pleaded guilty to robbing a pair of convenience stores in the Lincoln Park neighborhood last November. One of the men was on parole at the time of the hold-ups.

Vontez Turner pleaded guilty to robbing this 7-Eleven at 2004 North Halsted and one other location. | CPD; Google

Tyler Oates, 25, and 21-year-old Vontez Turner each pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery in connection with the hold-ups of 7-Eleven stores on the 1300 block of West Fullerton and the 2000 block of North Halsted. Judge Earl Hoffenberg sentenced Oates to two concurrent six-year terms and Turner to a pair of concurrent five-year terms.

Oates | CPD

Police arrested Oates and Turner as the duo returned to their getaway car after the Fullerton robbery which unfolded about 20 minutes after the Halsted crime. A third man who participated in the robberies was never found.

Turner had a hectic year leading up to the robberies, according to court records: 

  • Dec. 16, 2017: Arrested and charged with carrying a loaded handgun on the West Side. He was released on “affordable bail.”
  • January 10, 2018: Arrested and charged with robbing a man four days earlier in the victim’s garage in suburban Melrose Park. Taken were cash, credit cards, a phone, and jewelry. Turner is charged with felony robbery and felony burglary. He’s ordered held without bail.
  • Jan. 2018: Grand jury returns eight felony weapons counts against Turner in connection with the handgun incident.
  • Feb. 1, 2018: Grand jury returns eighteen felony counts, including vehicular invasion, burglary, robbery, and identity theft in connection with the Melrose Park case.
  • Aug. 29, 2018: In the gun case, prosecutors dropped seven of the felonies and Judge Erica Reddick sentences him to 18 months with 230 days credit for time spent sitting in jail awaiting trial
  • Sept. 4, 2018: Reports to Stateville Correctional Center
  • Sept. 27, 2018: While in prison for unlawful use of a weapon, he strikes a deal with prosecutors in the Melrose Park case. The state drops every charge except one count of unlawful possession of a credit card. Judge Geary Kull approves the deal and sentences Turner to 18-months with 260 days of credit for time served awaiting trial.
  • Oct. 9, 2018: Released from Stateville on parole after serving half of his gun and credit card sentences.
  • Nov. 18, 2018: Arrested and charged with robbing the two convenience stores.

With credit for time served while awaiting trial and Illinois’ standard 50% sentence reduction for anticipated good behavior, Turner’s parole date is set for May 13, 2021. Kirkman’s is set for  Nov. 12, 2021.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com