‘Reckless discharge’ led to British academic being shot dead in bed in US

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Police in the US have said the fatal shooting of an English astrophysicist in his bed appeared to be the result of “reckless discharge”.

Dr Matthew Willson, 31, was found dead at 2am local time last Sunday after being shot in an apartment block in Clairmont Road, Buford Highway, Georgia.

Sgt Jake Kissel from the Brookhaven Police Department said: “This incident appears to be a random act involving individuals participating in the reckless discharge of firearm(s) which led to the tragic death of Dr Willson.”

He said Dr Willson was in town from England visiting loved ones.

Tributes have been paid to Dr Willson from his alma mater, the University of Exeter.

A spokesperson for the university said in a statement: “Matthew Willson was a former PhD student at the University of Exeter and much-loved member of our astrophysics team.

“We have been informed about his tragic death in the US and 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.”

Police had been called out to the area over reports of gunshots when they received another call that a person had been shot.

Sgt Kissel, from Brookhaven Police, said officers assisted “with rendering aid until paramedics arrived on scene”.

“Dr. Willson was transported to a local trauma center where he succumbed to his injuries.”

The Foreign Office confirmed to the PA news agency that it was supporting the family of a British man following his death in the US.

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