Indiana College Student, 20, Killed by Stray Bullet While on 'Dream' First Visit to N.Y.C.

Benjamin VanHoose
·3-min read

Ethan Williams Instagram Ethan Williams

A 20-year-old college student from Indiana was shot and killed by a stray bullet while on a first-time "dream" visit to New York City over the weekend.

At about 2:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, police responded to a 911 call reporting a man shot in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement given to PEOPLE. Upon arrival, officers saw the victim — later identified as Ethan Williams — with a gunshot wound to his chest. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to WNBC, Ethan, who's from Indianapolis, Indiana, was sitting outside the front entrance to an Airbnb rental home where he was staying when seven gunshots were fired. Police don't believe he was the target, the outlet reports.

There have been no arrests as of Monday morning and the investigation remains ongoing.

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Ethan's father Jason Williams told WABC that his son was a sophomore at Indiana University who had saved up to travel with friends to New York City, where he dreamed of living one day. It was his first time in the city.

CBS New York/Youtube

"As an aspiring filmmaker, you know, there are these photography shots he wanted to get ... and so he finally got the opportunity go to New York, and he got there this week and they rented an Airbnb," said Jason. "I don't think they knew a part of town they were in; it was as cheap as, you know, four or five guys, you know, going in together on it. And he was there and just trying to have fun with his friends."

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"He has a massive heart, he loved people a lot," the father added. "There's 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."

Jason said his family wants justice for Ethan. "We've been robbed of a future with our boy that we've invested heavily in and love so much," he said.

Ethan's mother Susan Williams also told WABC that the shooter or shooters "need to understand that their actions have consequences beyond the moment and they need to turn themselves in. ... Give us peace."

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In a statement to WTHR, the Williams family mourned their "beautiful son" who they said "dreamed of visiting New York since he was a boy and saw the movie Spiderman."

"Ethan was living that dream on a trip to New York when he was struck by a stray bullet and killed," read the statement. "[He] loved people, particularly those who were marginalized or hurting. If he had the opportunity to say something to the shooter, we know that he would invite him for a cup of coffee and ask to hear their story. He would forgive without delay. Ethan always saw beyond the surface and took the time to help others feel seen, important and loved."