Timothy Wilks, a 20-year-old YouTube creator, was shot on Friday night during an alleged robbery “prank” in Old Hickory, Tennessee.
Wilks and his friend brought butcher knives to the Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park parking lot on Old Hickory Boulevard at approximately 9:20 p.m., allegedly intending to record themselves faking a robbery for YouTube. As they approached a group of people with their weapons, 23-year-old David Starnes Jr. allegedly drew his gun and fired, killing Wilks.
The alleged shooter has claimed he was unaware of the prank and acted in self-defense, according to a statement released by Nashville police. The homicide unit is still investigating the shooting and thus far no charges have been filed.
Urban Air customer Emily questioned the idea of such a dangerous prank, especially in such a populated area. “This is like, a huge kids area, and when we were in there, there were a ton of tiny kids and it’s just like, that would not be a great idea. Especially if anyone was walking out here, or something like that,” she told local news station WKRN.
“Pranks” like these have made headlines before. In 2020, TikTok stars Alan and Alex Strokes were charged after dressing in black, donning ski masks, and carrying duffel bags to allegedly make it look as if they had just robbed a bank while they tried to get an Uber. They face charges including one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency.
“These were not pranks,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at the time. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”