The self-professed ‘gun nut’ star of YouTube videos about firearms who insisted everyone has the right to an assault weapon under the Second Amendment, was found shot to death in what's been described as his Georgia “weapons development and testing facility” last week.
Keith Ratliff, 32, died from a single shot to the head — but the murder weapon can’t be found, and there was no sign of a struggle.
The police in northeast Georgia found him dead at his office on Jan. 3 surrounded by several guns, but not the one that killed him. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is treating it as a homicide since there was no sign of a struggle at the Carnesville, Ga., store where Ratliff repaired firearms.
USA Today reports that Ratliff’s brother, Kelly, told an Atlanta TV station that “For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody. Either that or he was ambushed.”
In a recent “gun control rant” on his personal YouTube page, as the national debate over gun control picked up after Newtown, he called himself a “gun nut” and insisted that the Second Amendment is “about owning weaponry to allow you to defend yourself from all enemies, no matter where they rise from.”
Ratliff loved guns. He built his own rifles, kept bullets in his car’s cup holder, and on the rear window of his car he put a sticker of the Starbucks Coffee mermaid firing two pistols that read, “I ♥ Guns and Coffee.”
Ratliff was a sort of celebrity on the Internet where he made his passion for firearms known. His YouTube channel, FPSRussia, became the site’s ninth largest, with nearly 3.5 million subscribers and more than 500 million views.
His videos, which starred a friend, Kyle Myers, are popular for their homegrown brand of zaniness — three minutes of 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.
F.P.S. is slang among video game players for “first-person shooter.” “Russia” refers to the thick accent used by Myers’s online persona.
Police have said they don't believe Ratliff's website had a role in the shooting.
He is survived by his wife and 2-year-old son.