A 20-year-old Indiana college student was struck and killed by a stray bullet on a trip to New York City, a place he had dreamed of visiting since seeing Spider-Man as a child, his parents said.
Ethan Williams, a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, died early Saturday morning when he was hit by the errant bullet while sitting on a stoop of a home he and his traveling companions had rented, police said.
“He has a massive massive heart, he loved people a lot. There’s [an] irony to me that that was the life that was taken. You know, the life of someone that wanted to give his life back to helping people,” his father, Jason Williams, told ABC station WABC-TV in New York.
The shooting unfolded about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday as Ethan Williams was sitting on the front stoop of the Airbnb rental home in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, police said. Witnesses told police they heard at least seven shots and Jason Williams said his son was hit once in the chest.
Ethan Williams was taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
New York Police Department officials said they do not believe Williams was the intended target.
“He was pretty much killed instantly from the stray bullet that went down the street,” Jason Williams said.
Police said Sunday that no one has been arrested in the killing and that investigators are interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video in an effort to identify the person responsible.
“They need to understand that their actions have consequences beyond the moment,” Susan Williams told WABC of the person who killed her son. “Turn yourself in, do what’s right. Let our family have peace.”
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Williams was a sophomore at Indiana University and was studying to become a filmmaker, his parents said. They said Ethan Williams was in New York to work on on a short documentary with a film crew.
The Williams said it was their son’s first trip to New York City and that he had worked over the summer and saved up money to pay for the trip.
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“When Ethan was a little guy, 3 or 4 years old, he saw Spider-Man and he fell in love with New York,” Jason Williams said.
Susan Williams added, “His hope was always to go to graduate school in New York. That was the dream.”
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The parents said their son graduated from high school with four honors diplomas and traveled to Africa to do missionary work.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Ethan Williams was also a charter member of the Mayor’s Youth Council of Indianapolis, a group of students that explore critical issues such as homelessness, hunger and gun violence.
“The news that Ethan was killed … in New York City is a tragic reminder that the scourge of gun violence is a national crisis, cutting short the promising future of far too many of our young people,” Hogsett said in a statement. “These are issues that Ethan was passionate about, and we owe it to him to continue these important conversations. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this heartbreaking time.”