Keith Ratliff was better known to the gun-loving side of YouTube as the curator to FPSRussia, aka Professional Russia, a channel of ammunition porn racking up 3.5 million subscribers and over 500 million views. Last week, in a gruesome and still mysterious twist of fate, Georgia police found him shot in the head and surrounded by guns — just not the one that left him dead. Ratliff curated, according to the New York Times, the ninth most popular YouTube channel, which displayed high-powered guns:
"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," reads the Times report from Robbie Brown. The Huffington Post gets a bit more hyperbolic, saying that Ratliff's "office" was actually a "weapons and development facility he operated in Carnesville, GA."
Both HuffPo and the Times confirm that Georgia police are treating this is as a homicide, and police, HuffPo reports, have had to battle the untrue rumors that Ratliff was found tied and dumped on a rural road. It may have been a surprise attack — police say Ratliff was shot once and there were no signs of a struggle.
Of course, Ratliff's popularity with the gun crowd — HuffPo reports that in one his videos he claims, "I am a gun nut" — lends this case a dimension of Internet celebrity, and perhaps even some political grandstanding about gun control. Here are the first few Twitter reactions when you search for "FPSRussia":