During the trial for 31-year-old Alan Colie, a YouTube prankster named Tanner Cook testified about a shooting incident that occurred at a mall in Leesburg, Virginia. Cook, known for his “Classified Goons” channel on YouTube with over 55,000 subscribers, stated that he had no knowledge of the anger or fear he had provoked in Colie, who allegedly shot him during the recorded prank. Colie is facing charges of aggravated malicious wounding and two firearms counts.
The shooting took place on April 2 at the food court in Dulles Town Center, causing panic among shoppers who mistook it for a mass shooting. Jurors were shown a video of the incident, recorded by Cook’s associates. In the video, Cook approached Colie, a DoorDash driver, and held a cellphone close to his face while repeatedly broadcasting a phrase through a Google Translate app. Despite Colie’s requests to stop, Cook continued to advance, prompting Colie to shoot him in the lower left chest.
Cook, 21, testified that his pranks aim to confuse his targets for the amusement of his online audience. He claimed that he does not intend to elicit fear or anger, although he acknowledged that his targets often react that way. Cook explained that he did not stop the prank despite Colie’s requests because he felt Colie’s reaction did not match what he was looking for.
Prosecutors urged jurors to focus on the shooting incident itself, rather than the nature of Cook’s pranks. Defense attorney Tabatha Blake argued that Colie was unaware he was a prank victim when confronted with Cook’s confusing behavior, emphasizing the unsettling nature of the situation.
Cook’s YouTube channel, “Classified Goons,” features various controversial pranks, including pretending to vomit on Uber drivers and following unsuspecting customers in department stores. Cook admitted during cross-examination that mall security had previously ejected him for attempting to record pranks and that he was trying to avoid security on the day he targeted Colie.
Jury selection for the trial took a full day, partly due to the case’s local publicity. One juror revealed during the selection process that she had been a victim of one of Cook’s videos. Cook stated that he continues to make videos and earns $2,000 to $3,000 per month. His subscriber count increased from 39,000 to 55,000 after the shooting incident.