A Kansas City man will serve more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of a hate crime in an attempted murder motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
Malachi Robinson, 25, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty last year to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Robinson has been in federal custody since he was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 10, 2021.
Robinson admitted that he shot the then-16-year-old victim, identified in court records as M.S., approximately eight times with a Taurus 9mm pistol in an attempt to kill him because of his sexual orientation, causing life-threatening injuries.
After a chance meeting at the Kansas City Public Library on May 29, 2019, Robinson and M.S. talked briefly over Facebook Messenger before meeting outside the library. According to court documents, library surveillance footage showed that M.S. began to walk away, and Robinson followed him, catching up to M.S. before crossing the street. The two then walked for a while in the Swoop Park area, until Robinson suggested that they go into a wooded area nearby under the guise of looking for a place to engage in a sex act.
Around the same time, Robinson wrote separately to his girlfriend that he “might shoot this boy” because of his sexual orientation.
Robinson and M.S. entered a wooded area nearby. M.S. changed his mind and turned to leave the woods, but Robinson pulled out his pistol and fired repeatedly at M.S. M.S. was able to get up and onto a sidewalk in front of the woods. He moved along the sidewalk until he eventually collapsed in front of a nearby apartment building. A bystander called 911, and police officers and emergency medical services responded. M.S. was transported to a local hospital, where he was deemed to be in critical condition.
M.S., who sustained eight gunshot wounds, survived the shooting after spending approximately two weeks in the hospital. M.S. has since suffered long-term effects of the shooting. He has undergone multiple surgeries and physical therapy and still has several bullets inside of him.
Robinson fled through the woods toward his apartment building and engaged in attempts to avoid detection or arrest. Later that day, and in the days that followed, Robinson told others that he shot M.S. because of his sexual orientation.
“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,” said Kristen Clarke, an Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “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. Bias motivated misconduct has no place in our country, and the Justice Department is committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to vigorously pursue justice for victims targeted because of their sexual orientation.”