SPRINGTOWN — Each day, millions of people tap into technology to meet new people, including the use of social smartphone apps.
But an early morning connection nearly got a Springtown man killed. Arron Keahey was beaten, bloody and bruised.
Keahey, 24, said his first contact with the 18-year-old suspect was on a phone app called MeetMe. Keahey said he went over to the teen's house about an hour later.
The Labor Day attack left Keahey with broken facial bones that required plastic surgery. He also suffered nerve damage and had some teeth knocked out.
Keahey is gay, and said he went to the teen's house in Springtown thinking he was either gay or bisexual. He said the ambush happened immediately.
"He started getting all frustrated and talking all angrily," Keahey said. "I don't remember anything after that."
Police said they received a 911 call from 18-year-old Brice Johnson, who told officers he found Keahey outside his house in the trunk of a car. Johnson said he drove Keahey to get medical help.
Police later arrested Johnson and charged him with aggravated assault, causing serious bodily injury.
"I've been up here altogether 10 years, and this is the first hate crime or possible hate crime that I've investigated," said Springtown police Lt. Curtis Stone.
The victim showed us photos of the marks left on his neck and wrists. But he and the suspect say they both remember little about the actual attack.
"Unfortunately, with him not being able to recall anything that happened, and the suspect claiming that he doesn't recall, I don't have any answers why those are there," Lt. Stone said.
Police are treating the incident as a possible hate crime. Keahey is convinced it was just that.
"Why would they have you under the belief that they're gay or bisexual or whatever they say you are, and have them show up and do what they did?" Keahey asked.
The 18-year-old suspect spent the summer with his friend's family at the same house where the attack happened. Darcel Cummings said his family often provides shelter for troubled teens.
"I haven't seen him be violent or upset towards anybody — not enough to do something like that," Cummings said. "And then Brice is a little bitty guy."
Keahey said he has learned a painful lesson. "Just don't meet anybody online," he said. "Don't trust them."