A 20-year-old in Nashville, Tennessee has been shot dead after a robbery prank being filmed for a YouTube channel went wrong.
According to a press release shared by Nashville authorities, YouTuber Timothy Wilks was shot dead in the parking lot of a Hermitage, Tenn. trampoline park on the evening of Friday, Feb. 5.
Police state that Wilks and a friend, who was not identified in the press release, allegedly approached a group of people with butcher knives in their hands. According to police, Wilks and the other individual intended to stage a fake robbery as part of a YouTube video.
23-year-old David Starnes Jr., who claimed he had had no idea it had been a “prank” then shot Wilks. When questioned at the scene by police, Starnes Jr. claimed he pulled the trigger in self-defence and was “unaware” that it was only a prank.
According to MNPD, no charges have been filed in Wilks’ death. The investigation is ongoing.
Last year, YouTube stars Alan and Alex Stokes were charged in August in connection with two fake bank robberies that resulted in their Uber driver, who was not involved in the prank, being held at gunpoint by police.
In 2019, YouTube decided to ban “dangerous challenges and pranks” from the platform, updating their community guidelines and enforcement of rules with a promise they will remove content that qualifies as encouraging “violence or dangerous activities.”
“YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous,” they explained in the revised guidelines posted online.
“We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress.”