Since 2005, YouTube has been a video sharing platform for videos about politics, science, but above all, humor. From prank phone calls to practical jokes, YouTube excels in the field of pranks and jokes, but not all is silly is innocent. Such is the case with 20 year old YouTuber Timothy Wilks who was shot dead in Nashville, Tennessee, after trying to film a robbery prank video.
The prank involved Wilks and his friends approaching a group of people in the trampoline company Urban Air. They held butcher knives in their hands and pretended to rob the company. Before they could, however, one member of the group, David Stares Jr. had shot Wilkes at around 9:30 PM thinking the company was in grave danger. Starnes had told the police he wasn’t aware it was intended to be a joke.
According to reporter Matt Novak, “Starnes has not been charged and an investigation into the fatal shooting as a matter of self defense is ongoing”. Still, the cameras were unable to depict the full details of the prank. “Approaching somebody with a weapon, in this case, a butcher knife, is not a prank so much as it is a threat a violence”, says Starnes.
This is not the first time that prank robbery videos went entirely wrong. According to analyst Claudia Koerner, “In August, the Stokes twins were charged with a felony and misdemeanor in connection with two bank robbery pranks they filmed with for their 6 million subscribers”. When taken to court, lawyers defended their case saying no harm was intended. Prank robbery videos are intended to be humorous but when people are killed and lawsuits are filed, was it really worth it in the end?