Man Shot Dead as YouTube Robbery "Prank" Goes Wrong in Nashville

A man has been shot and killed in Nashville while recording a robbery "prank" for YouTube, police have said.

YouTuber Timothy Wilks, 20, died in the shooting in a parking lot of an Urban Air indoor trampoline park, where officers attended around 9:25 p.m. on Friday

David Starnes Jr., 23, told police he fired the gun to defend himself after Wilks and an unnamed individual approached him with butcher's knives, according to a Metro Nashville police release.

Witnesses told detectives that Wilks and a friend were participating in a "prank" robbery, The Tennessean newspaper reports.

Starnes said he was unaware of the prank that was reportedly being filmed as part of a YouTube video, according to the Associated Press.

"I was in my room so I was eating and I dropped my burger ... so many shots," one man living nearby told news station KWQC.

Pictures purporting to show the scene of the shooting have been posted on Facebook.

No one has been charged in Wilks' death and police are continuing to investigate.

Newsweek has contacted the Metro Nashville Police Department for comment.

Robbery "pranks" remain popular on social networking sites such as YouTube, with some clips garnering millions of views.

In August of 2020, YouTube personalities Alex and Alan Stokes were charged with a felony and misdemeanor in connection with two bank robbery pranks they allegedly staged and filmed for their six million subscribers.

The pair were accused of presenting themselves as criminals to an unsuspecting Uber driver and members of the public in Irvine, California, on 15 October 2019.

In one video, the pair are seen running away from a building wearing ski masks, and carrying duffel bags filled with dollar bills.

And in January 2020, an Ohio teenager was taken into police custody after he and his friends allegedly pulled a robbery prank on his mother, who then called the police.

More recently, two YouTubers from Belgium were fined for dressing up as scary clowns and carrying a fake AK-47 assault rifle while trying to film a prank video in January 2020.

"Frightening a few people is not so bad if you can please a multitude of people," the then-24-year-olds said in a statement.

However, the video never appeared online after police confiscated the YouTubers' memory card, their gun and costumes. The duo were given a four months suspended sentence and a €800 fine, The Brussels Times reported at the time.

Crime scene tape
File photo: Crime scene tape is seen after a shooting in Texas. Police are investigating after a man was shot and killed while filming a robbery “prank” for a YouTube video in Nashville, Tennessee. Brendan Smialowski/Getty