British man killed in 'reckless' Georgia shooting

Published
Image source, Brookhaven Police
Image caption,
Matthew Willson had been visiting his girlfriend when he was shot, according to US police

An astrophysicist has been killed in a "reckless" shooting while visiting his girlfriend in the US state of Georgia.

At 02:00 local time (07:00 GMT) on Sunday, officers were called to an apartment block in Clairmont Road in Brookhaven, Atlanta.

Dr Matthew Willson, 31, from Surrey, UK, was found in bed with a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Foreign Office said it was "supporting the family of a British man following his death".

Brookhaven Police said the shooting of Dr Willson, from Chertsey, was "random" and involved the "reckless discharge of firearms".

Dr Willson "was in town from England visiting loved ones when the incident occurred," police said.

Police told local news station WSB-TV2 in Atlanta that it was "a senseless act" and Dr Willson was "a completely innocent victim".

Investigators also said he had just flown in to Atlanta.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Dr Willson was staying with his girlfriend at an apartment in this complex on Clairmont Road in Brookhaven when he was killed

Officers had earlier been called to a neighbouring block of flats after reports of gunshots. They received a second call regarding a "person being shot" while they were checking the area.

Dr Willson was a former PhD student at the University of Exeter in the south-west of England.

The university said in a statement that Dr Willson was a "much-loved member of our astrophysics team".

It added: "Our hearts go out to his family, friends and colleagues. We are offering support to colleagues at the university who will also want to commemorate his life."

Dr Willson also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia State University between 2017 and 2019, the university said.

No suspects have been arrested and police are seeking information from the public. Authorities are offering a cash reward for tips that lead to an arrest.

Sgt Jake Kissel from Brookhaven Police described the location of the shooting as "a generally safe area".

Sgt Kissel told BBC Radio Surrey that officers "immediately responded to the priority call of someone being shot and that's where they met with a female caller who was rendering aid to her boyfriend who had been shot dead".

He said: "We are asking for our public's help in assisting us with this investigation.

"Our investigators are currently following up on all leads to include potential video, eyewitness accounts as well as the evidence that was left on scene."

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