Keith Ratliff was living his dream. Part computer geek, part self-professed “gun nut,” Ratliff helped film an offbeat and wildly popular series of videos on Youtube called “FPSRussia,” which featured a Georgia boy with a fake Russian accent shooting and blowing stuff up.

Ratliff and partner Kyle Lamar Myers, aka “Dmitri Potapoff” in the show, also branched into the world of weaponry, setting up a business to develop, test and market custom-made guns, including one advertised as a “super compact full auto carbine PSD special ops weapon.” And in recent months, Ratliff had stepped from behind his camera to jump into the white-hot issue of gun control, arguing that an armed populace was a safe populace.

He even shot a video contending that ordinary citizens should be able to own “true military arms, real assault weapons” to defend themselves “from all enemies no matter where they rise from.”

But despite his formidable arsenal, Ratliff was unable to protect himself from an assassin’s bullet. On Jan. 3, the 32-year-old father of three was found dead in his office, killed by a single bullet to the head. His SUV, with a holster on the driver’s seat, boxes of bullets in the cargo area and a “Don’t Tread on Me” license tag, was still parked in front of the office a week after his death.

Authorities are calling the killing a homicide, but have said little else about the circumstances of the crime or their investigation.

Ratliff was seen the evening of Jan. 2 by the gravel road outside his office talking with a man, said a neighbor who did not want to be identified. No one seems to have heard the shot that killed him and even if they did, would not have thought much of it because Ratliff often fired weapons at his property, as did many of his neighbors.

Levi Fox, who lives next door, said the killing has made everyone edgy. “We’re locking our doors more and keeping our guns closer,” he said.

Ratliff’s death touched off a firestorm of impassioned Internet chatter, from those people who claim that pro-gun advocates are being targeted by the government to those noting the irony of a zealous gun-seller dying from a gun-shot wound.

Read more: AJC


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