NEW YORK — Friends are remembering a 20-year-old Indiana University student who was shot and killed by a stray bullet Saturday morning in New York City.
Ethan Williams, of Indianapolis, was shot around 2:30 a.m. on Eldert Street in Brooklyn, according to the New York Police Department. Detectives believe he was in the city visiting some people.
No arrests have been made and no information on a possible suspect has been released, according to NYPD. On Monday, NYPD announced a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case.
His father told WABC he was a sophomore in the film media program at IU. Williams was concerned about the poverty and violence in Indy.
“Ethan was a part of our first Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council class, a group of high school students from across Marion County that explored critical issues like homelessness, hunger, and gun violence," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement. "The news that Ethan was killed overnight in New York City is a tragic reminder that the scourge of gun violence is a national crisis, cutting short the promising future of far too many of our young people. These are issues that Ethan was passionate about, and we owe it to him to continue these important conversations. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this heartbreaking time.”
Blaine Cromley, Williams, and others arrived in New York City on Thursday. Going to the city, and eventually moving there, was something Cromley and Williams had planned on doing since middle school.
"Ethan was always the same to me, we were always into the arts, music, action sports, clothing, etc.," Cromley said in an exchange of text messages with WRTV. "We started skating in eighth grade when we asked our parents for skateboards for Christmas. After that, it never stopped. We have loved skateboarding since then and it is a huge part of why we were so close for so many years."
Cromely says Williams always wanted to talk to other people because he was genuinely interested in hearing their stories.
“I remember having sleepovers at his house we would just lay in his bed talking until 5 a.m. about anything,” Cromley said. “Ethan was very strong with his faith and would never hurt a soul.”
Cromley and Williams both liked Spiderman, which sparked their admiration for New York City. They started skating and watching skating videos in the city, which made them want to visit the city even more, Cromley said.
$2,500 REWARD for information regarding a HOMICIDE that occurred on 10/24.— NYPD 83rd Precinct (@NYPD83Pct) October 26, 2020
🚨PLEASE RETWEET🚨 pic.twitter.com/jFj5cxxgsv
Williams, who graduated from Franklin Central High School, started an LGBTQ club and was apart of the Indianapolis Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council because he wanted to help end the gun violence in the city, Cromley said.
During his freshman year at Taylor University, Cromley said Williams would come visit him and his other friends every weekend, except for one.
“Ethan didn’t care about the education world's view of him, he only cared that he knew what he wanted to learn and work towards,” Cromley said. “In fact, he was in an Islamic feminism class being the only guy in there.”
“Ethan was going to change the world I can promise you that,” he said. “He changed my world and my viewpoint on everything. He truly was an amazing human, and I am so very lucky to have known him.”
Others who knew Williams said he wanted to make the world a better place and loved being involved and doing anything he could to make a change.
"Everyone knew Ethan as the most caring and loving friend," Elliot Madere said. "Ethan was also very passionate about doing good in the world and making the world a better place. He will never be forgotten."
Madere and Williams were friends and ran cross country together in middle school.
He graduated high school with four honors diplomas and started his own brand, WABC reported.
"We want justice for our son, we've been robbed of a future with our boy that we've invested heavily in and love so much," his father, Jason Williams, told WABC.
"They need to understand that their actions have consequences beyond the moment and they need to turn themselves in....give us peace," his mother, Susan Williams, told WABC.
Chuck Carney, an IU spokesperson, said Williams was a student at the university’s Bloomington campus.
James Shanahan, dean of The Media School at IU, released the following statement Sunday:
Dear Media School community,
It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the death of one of our students, Ethan Williams. Ethan died while visiting New York City with friends this weekend.
Ethan attended Franklin Central High School in Indianapolis. He transferred to IU this fall from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. He was a sophomore pre-media student.
I know you all will join me as we at The Media School extend our deepest condolences to Ethan’s family and friends.
Counseling and support services are available to students at Counseling and Psychological Services, (812) 855-5711.