Web prank horror: Man shot dead while pretending to rob someone at knife-point for a YouTube video

Nashville Metropolitan Police in Tennessee said on Saturday that detectives are investigating the shooting death of Timothy Wilks, 20. The incident occurred during the filming of a video for the internet in the parking lot of Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park, a family entertainment business.

The police in a statement said investigators have been told Wilks and a friend tried to carry out a prank robbery for a YouTube video.

The pair, armed with butcher knives, are said to have approached a group of people to pretend to rob them, prompting one of member of the party, David Starnes Jr, 23, to draw his gun and fire.

Starnes admitted to police he shot Wilks and said he did so in self-defense. He told the cops he was not aware the robbery was a prank. No charges have been filed against Starnes and the investigation remains ongoing.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the Nashville Metropolitan Police had no further information to provide.

Pranks and stunts staged for social media engagement have gone wrong before. In August, 2020, twins Alex and Alan Stokes, who have millions of followers on YouTube and TikTok, were charged with felony false imprisonment for allegedly holding an Uber driver at gunpoint as a prank a year earlier.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the twins, wearing ski masks and carrying a duffle bag supposedly filled with cash summoned an Uber ride on October 15, 2019. The driver, who had not been let in on the prank, refused to drive them and a bystander who saw the incident believed the twins were attempting a carjacking.


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The police let the twins go with a warning. But according to the Orange County DA, the Stokes brothers engaged in another prank robbery four hours later at the University of California, Irvine, that also resulted in a 911 emergency call.

The twins pleaded not guilty last year. A spokesperson for the Orange County District Attorney told The Register that a preliminary court hearing for the Stokes twins is scheduled for February 25, 2021.

In January, 2019, YouTube updated its policies to forbid “pranks that lead victims to fear imminent serious physical danger, or that create serious emotional distress in minors.”

This after Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, fatally shot her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, in 2017. The couple were filming a video stunt intended for YouTube that aimed to prove a book could stop a .50 caliber bullet. ®

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