Play stupid games… well, you know the rest.
A would-be YouTube star was shot and killed in Nashville on Friday after he approached a man carrying a concealed handgun in what police have described as a “robbery prank” gone wrong.
Carrying butcher knives, Timothy Wilks, 20, and a friend approached a group of people in a parking lot of an Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park around 9:20 p.m. One of the men in the group, 23-year-old David Starnes, Jr., believed he and his friends were in danger, so he took out his concealed handgun and shot Wilks, killing him.
Starnes stayed on the scene and told police he was not aware of the prank. Police said in a statement that no charges have been filed, but they are investigating Starnes’ claims of self-defense.
Wilks’ relatives are not blaming Starnes. Instead, they’re trying to prevent other young people from taking similar risks to get famous.
Shirley Berry, Wilks’ grandmother, told the Tennessean that she’s trying to raise awareness of the consequences of social media and raise money for “positive programs” for children as a “tribute to him.”
Children like Wilks, she said, are drawn to the “limelight” and see social media and internet fame as a “way out.”
“The thing I would want them to know is, if you’re trying to make a statement for yourself, do it in a positive way,” she said. “Do something positive. That’s what I would have told him if he would have come to me with this thought.”
“If you’re thinking about doing something, think again, because it’s not worth your life or anybody else’s,” Berry said.
She also wants people to know that Wilks was a “good child.”
“I’m not angry, but I just don’t want anyone thinking that this person that is lying in the morgue was a ‘thug,'” Berry said. “He was not. He was a good child. He would do anything for anyone.”
Neither Wilks nor Starnes have criminal records, according to the Tennessean.
Videos depicting fake robberies and other criminal acts are a genre to themselves on YouTube. The most popular channel features twin brothers Alan and Alex Stokes, who film themselves performing various “pranks” in public and recording peoples’ responses.
In this video, for example, viewed over 4.5 million times, the twins steal ear buds from strangers in public.
In September, the Stokes found themselves in hot water after they were charged with felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor falsely reporting an emergency following a prank bank robbery that drew police response.