YouTuber Dies Aged 20 After Alleged Robbery Prank Ends In Fatal Shooting

by : Emily Brown on : 08 Feb 2021 16:29
YouTuber Dies Aged 20 After Alleged Robbery Prank Ends In Fatal ShootingSayCheese/Google Maps

A 20-year-old man has died after being shot during an alleged ‘prank’ robbery being filmed for YouTube.

Timothy Wilks and a friend are said to have approached a group of people outside Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park in Nashville, Tennessee, to carry out the alleged prank on Friday, February 5.


The pair were each carrying large butcher knives and as they approached the group, one member pulled out a gun and discharged the fatal shot, according to a Metropolitan Nashville Police Department statement.

Hear more about the story below:


Wilks’ friend, who has not been named, told officers he and Wilks were taking part in the stunt for a YouTube video, however the shooter, 23-year-old David Starnes Jr., told police he had no idea he was involved in the ‘prank’.


Police were called to the scene and Starnes admitted to shooting Wilks when the authorities arrived at 9.25pm. He claimed he shot the weapon in self-defence as the two men approached with the knives.

At the time the incident took place, several families were inside the ‘kid-friendly’ Urban Air park, located on Old Hickory Boulevard.

Car park where YouTuber was fatally shotRoger Fregoso/9 News/YouTube

No charges have been filed against Starnes, though homicide detectives are continuing to investigate the incident. According to Guns To Carry, Tennessee firearms law is considered ‘gun friendly with no requirement for purchase approval or registration of firearms’.


Speaking about the situation to Fox affiliate WZTV, per The Sun, a lawyer commented, ‘I’m sure the people involved would like to characterise this as a prank. But it certainly seems to be a prank that went seriously awry.’

Robbery ‘prank’ videos of the kind allegedly planned by Wilks and his friend are relatively common on YouTube, though typically the ‘victims’ are aware of the situation beforehand. So-called ‘robbers’ sometimes use balaclavas and getaway vehicles, while weapons can involve fake firearms.

Police at scene of YouTuber shootingRoger Fregoso/9 News/YouTube

In an effort to prevent the potentially triggering or violent videos from being shared on the platform, YouTube brought in rules banning dangerous or threatening pranks two years ago, including stunts that ‘lead victims to fear imminent serious physical danger or that create serious emotional distress in minors’.


Videos involving threats with weapons and fake robberies are specifically listed as videos that are unacceptable on the site, and that would be taken down if they were posted.

The site also prohibits ‘extremely dangerous challenges’ such as those that ‘pose an imminent risk of physical injury.’

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Nashville, Now, prank, tennessee, YouTube


9 News/YouTube and 2 others
  1. 9 News/YouTube

    Youtube prank in Tennessee leads to fatal shooting

  2. The Sun

    ROBBERY GONE WRONG Who was YouTuber Timothy Wilks?

  3. Guns To Carry

    The Practical Guide