A YouTuber was shot in the stomach on April 2 in a Virginia mall after attempting to play what he called a “simple practical joke” on a man.
Tanner Cook is a member of the Classified Goons, a group that has been posting prank videos on YouTube since May 2022. Known as “just a couple of ‘bone heads,’” according to the group’s YouTube channel description, these pranksters have racked up millions of views across TikTok and YouTube for their typically silly and infantile jokes. One of the group’s most watched videos features popular streamer JiDion, in which he and one of the Goons stroll through stores snitching on the cameraperson filming random people in a bombastic way to start drama. Another video shows a Goon member telling dealerships that one of the cars being sold on the lot is actually their stolen car. You know, very high school, early-to-mid 2010s YouTube-era stuff. Nothing too heinous or egregious. However, a recent practical joke attempt went awry and ended in unfortunate (and unwarranted) violence this week.
YouTuber Tanner Cook shot, arrest made
According to news station WUSA9, Cook was shot in the stomach and liver while recording a Classified Goons video inside the Dulles Town Center Mall in Sterling, Virginia. The suspected shooter, 31-year-old Alan W. Colie, was arrested and charged with aggravated malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and discharging a firearm within a building. An investigation is still underway, while Cook had surgery for the incident. He told WUSA9 that Colie didn’t say anything. He just pulled out a gun and shot Cook.
“I’m fine,” Cook told WUSA9 in an exclusive interview. “I was just playing a prank, a simple practical joke, and this guy didn’t take it very well and shot me.”
Kotaku reached out to Cook and the Classified Goons for comment.
Update: According to a new report from WUSA9, Colie’s public defender Adam Pouilliard said Cook “antagonized” his client, adding that Colie was “targeted, harassed, accosted, and followed” by Cook in the Dulles Town Center Mall. The nature of the prank involved Cook using Google Translate to play the phrase “I think you smell,” as Colie was in the mall to pick up a DoorDash order, according to Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office detective Katie Mitchell. Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Needham said Colie told Cook to “leave him alone” and even swatted the phone out of his face, but Cook was “as close as six inches away” when Colie pulled a gun out of his vest and fired inside the mall. Colie was denied bond, according to WUSA9.
Because of this, the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement to WUSA9 that charges against Cook may be considered.
“This matter is still under investigation,” the department said. “The actions of Tanner Cook and Alan Colie are under review. Once the investigation is complete, the OCA will review the evidence and make such charging decisions as are supported by the facts. This may result in additional charges.”
This doesn’t appear to be Cook’s first time seemingly harassing an individual for a prank. While bothering folks is part of his so-called prank content, WUSA9 reporter Matthew Torres said someone who was pranked by Cook was left “traumatized” as the nature of the joke involved a “stalker.”
Cops responded in three minutes
In a press release, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) said that once a call was placed at around 11:57 a.m. local time reporting the incident, deputies were on the scene within three minutes. Colie, the suspect, was swiftly arrested.
“One adult male victim was found outside the mall with a gunshot wound to the abdomen,” LCSO said. “The victim was treated for injuries by deputies and members of the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System (LC-CFRS) and transported to a local hospital for treatment. At this time, it does not appear that the suspect and the victim were known to each other.”
LCSO said deputies on the scene also “checked the entire mall” to see if any other suspects or victims were present, but nothing was reported in that regard.
When reached for comment, a LCSO detective told Kotaku that the department can’t divulge much information because the incident is still under investigation.
“We do have the shooter in custody,” the LCSO detective said. “We can’t release the victim’s name or the fact that the victim has a social media presence, which you might already know. We’re limited on what we can say, but the victim is still in the hospital. Other than that, we don’t know their status.”
Despite such a traumatizing predicament that would rattle most folks, Cook told WUSA9 that the shooting isn’t going to stop him. Posting is his “passion,” he told the news station, so he’s intent to return to YouTube. Cook’s expected to make a full recovery.
Update, 04/07/23, 10:58 a.m. ET: This story has been edited to add details about the nature of the prank and the possibility of charges being pressed against Tanner Cook.