Someone, somewhere must be making somewhat snarky comments.
Gun Enthusiast With Popular Online Videos Is Shot to Death in Georgia By ROBBIE BROWN Published: January 10, 2013
CARNESVILLE, Ga. — Keith Ratliff loved guns. He built his own rifles. He kept bullets in his car’s cup holder. And on the rear window he slapped a sticker of the Starbucks Coffee mermaid firing two pistols.
“I ♥ Guns and Coffee,” it read.
Mr. Ratliff’s passion for firearms made him something of a celebrity on the Internet, where he helped make scores of videos about high-powered and exotic guns and explosives. His YouTube channel, called FPSRussia, became the site’s ninth largest, with nearly 3.5 million subscribers and more than 500 million views.
But last week, the authorities said, Mr. Ratliff, 32, ended up on the wrong end of a gun. The police in northeast Georgia found him dead at his office on Jan. 3, shot once in the head. He was surrounded by several guns, but not the one that killed him. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is treating it as a homicide.
“We are interviewing people of interest, but we have not named a suspect,” said the Franklin County sheriff, Stevie Thomas. “We are not ruling out any options.”
The news, coming amid a national debate about gun control, rippled across the blogs and social networking sites where his videos were popular. Tributes on Facebook and Twitter came from fans stunned that such a well-armed expert had not been able to defend himself.
“For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody,” his wife, Amanda, told a television channel in Lexington, Ky., where he used to live. "Either that or he was ambushed."
Mr. Ratliff’s videos, which starred a friend, Kyle Myers, are popular for their homegrown brand of zaniness — three minutes of Mr. Myers’s casual banter as he rakes targets or blows things up with extreme displays of firepower. Most are made outdoors, where Mr. Myers fires at targets like hay bales or photographs of Justin Bieber, while explaining the merits of various weapons. The videos always end the same way: with a boom.
“We couldn’t make a video about such a high-powered rifle without blowing up a truck,” Mr. Myers says in one video before opening fire on an empty pickup truck. “So let’s get a nice, big explosion and maybe a little shrapnel.”
F.P.S. is slang among video game players for “first-person shooter.” “Russia” refers to the thick accent used by Mr. Myers’s online persona.
Mr. Ratliff recently moved from Kentucky to Carnesville, a city of 540 people that is 80 miles from Atlanta. He opened a business that made and repaired firearms, and was licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the authorities said.
He was last seen alive at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2, the police said. The next night, the police found him dead inside the business, FPS Industries.
Neighbors in this small community said Mr. Ratliff kept to himself. His wife and 2-year-old son lived in Kentucky. Until last week, Sheriff Thomas said he was called to the property only once, after neighbors heard gunfire.
“As many of you already know I lost a close friend this week,” Mr. Myers wrote to his 1.1 million Facebook followers. “I ask only that you show respect to the situation for the family’s sake.”