A 20-year-old man armed with a butcher knife was fatally shot on Friday night while taking part in a “prank” robbery video for YouTube.
Timothy Wilks was killed in the parking lot of Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park around 9:25 p.m., according to according to a Metropolitan Nashville Police Department statement.
Wilks and an unidentified friend were reportedly filming a video and approached a group of people, including 23-year-old David Starnes Jr., with butcher knives as a “prank.”
Starnes told detectives that he didn’t know the stunt was a prank and shot Wilks in what he said was self defense.
No charges have been filed against Starnes, although police are investigating the case.
Robbery pranks on YouTube have made negative headlines before.
Alan and Alex Strokes, twin brothers who have more than 25 million TikTok followers and 4 million YouTube subscribers, were charged in connection with a pair of fake bank robberies in Irvine, Calif., back in October 2019.
The pair dressed in all black, wore ski masks and carried duffel bags full of cash to pretend that they had robbed a bank, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
A videographer filmed them as they ordered an Uber to pick them up. However, the driver refused to take them and a bystander called police after believing the men were carjackers.
Police later issued the brothers a warning but they allegedly performed a similar prank just four hours later at the University of California Irvine campus, triggering a flood of emergency calls.
“Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the public, and when someone calls 911 to report an active bank robbery, they are going to respond to protect lives,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Instead, what they found was some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger."
“These were not pranks,” Spitzer added. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed.”
In August 2020, the two were charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit, and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency. If convicted on all counts, the Stokes brothers each face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.