A 20-year-old YouTuber, Timothy Wilks, has been shot and killed after trying to prank somebody with a butcher knife for a fake robbery video in Nashville, Tennessee.
For the purpose of filming a prank video for YouTube, Wilks and an unidentified friend wielded butcher knives and approached a group of people in the parking lot of Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park.
Reportedly intending to create prank robbery content, Wilks was then shot dead by 23-year-old David Starnes Jr., who was one of the people in the group of intended “victims.” As Tennessee laws dictate, Starnes was legally permitted to carry a handgun and act in self defense.
At the moment, news sources like the Washington Post report that Wilks’ gunshot wound was fatal, his unidentified friend was untouched and that, while police are continuing to investigate, no charges have yet been filed against Starnes.
20 year old Nashville youtuber Timothy Wilks was killed after he approached a group of guys with butcher knives as part of a 'prank' robbery for youtube.. shooter said he was unaware of the prank & shot him to defend himself & others. No one has been charged in Wilks' death. pic.twitter.com/70BTeX0vNJ
— Saycheese TV 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) February 7, 2021
Prank videos have long been a staple of the entertainment industry, but Wilks’ latest effort was a long evolution away from the likes of Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d episodes that circulated on MTV back in 2003.
As internet content enjoys a greater breadth of creators and sources of entertainment, robbery pranks have grown in number and in extremity. A quick YouTube search will reveal dozens of videos, some concluding in arrests or in tears.
Still, while commenters will be quick to call out prank videos for being staged, Wilks’ death proves a cautionary tale. At just 20 years old, the hopeful YouTuber’s intentions were for good content, but Starnes reportedly indicates he had no idea that a prank was afoot.
The Tennessee State Constitution reads that “citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense.” Specifically, citizens need no permit to purchase a long or handgun and, while permits are required for open or concealed carrying, self-defense laws are flexible.
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As Tennessee code indicates, “there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force, as long as you are acting lawfully and are in a place you have a right to be in.” With the incident taking place in a public parking lot, those parameters were met by Starnes and, as such, charges have yet to be filed but Nashville police confirm that investigations are ongoing.