British man killed by stray bullet as he lay in bed in Atlanta

Matthew Willson from Surrey was shot in ‘reckless’ shooting as he was visiting his girlfriend

An astrophysicist from Surrey has died after being hit by a stray bullet while lying in bed during a trip to Atlanta.

Dr Matthew Willson, 31, from Chertsey, was shot in the early hours of Friday when a weapon was discharged by a group of individuals from a neighbouring block of flats in the suburb of Brookhaven. No suspects have been arrested.

According to reports, several residents had phoned the emergency services at about 2am and police attended after multiple shots were fired.

Willson was believed to have been visiting his girlfriend in Georgia, having flown to the US last week. He was taken to hospital, but died from a gunshot to the head, police said. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

It is understood he died after a single bullet passed through the bedroom wall as he slept in bed. Police said they believed the incident was a random act involving individuals participating in the reckless discharge of firearms, local TV reported.

Sgt Jacob Kissel from Brookhaven police told WSB-TV: “This was a senseless act – this was an innocent victim. She and her boyfriend were laying in bed. He was here visiting from England. He was visiting a loved one. He had just flown in to the Atlanta area.

“We lean on the public to understand that this is a tragic event, and we hope that they may come forward with any information they may have.”

Kissel told BBC Radio Surrey that the location of the shooting was “a generally safe area”.

He said 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.”

Willson had worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia State University for two years, having also worked at the University of Liège in Belgium, MailOnline reported. He had recently been living back in Britain.

His family requested privacy after their son’s tragic death. Kate Easingwood, his sister, who is a molecular biology PhD student based in Sweden, posted a tribute to him on Instagram today, saying: “The world is so unfair.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting family of a British man following his death in the US, and are in contact with US authorities.”

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