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The Indiana Daily Student

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‘He loved people for who they were’: Remembering Ethan Williams

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From childhood to adulthood, Ethan Williams always cared for others. Those who knew him always felt welcomed and comfortable around him. 

“Ethan was the friend to everybody, even if you weren’t anything like him,” said his friend Sam Kreis, a sophomore at The Citadel, a military college.

Williams was shot in the chest Oct. 24 by a stray bullet in Brooklyn, New York, and later died at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, police told WNBC New York. His father, Jason Williams, told the New York Post that Williams was on a trip with his friends to film a skateboarding video in New York, a place he had dreamed of visiting since childhood.

He is survived by his parents Jason and Susan Williams, his brother Aidan and his sister Annelle.

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Ethan Williams stands for a photo with his parents in front of the Sample Gates. Williams was on a trip with his friends to film a skateboarding video in New York when he was shot in the chest by a stray bullet. Courtesy Photo

Williams and Kreis were neighbors in Indianapolis, Indiana. As kids, they would ride bikes, climb trees and play basketball, Kreis said. He said in elementary school when he had to transition from a private Christian school to a public school, Williams gave him the confidence to be himself and make friends, and he’s grateful for that to this day.

“He has always been and forever will be a brother to me, and it is true that only the good die young,” he said.

Williams’ caring nature continued on past childhood. In third grade he stood up for another child being pushed around in their school bus, his father told the New York Post. He said his son founded an LGBTQ club in high school even though he was straight because he couldn’t bear seeing fellow classmates get bullied.

Williams served as a charter member of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s first Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council class, exploring issues such as homelessness, hunger and gun violence in the city, Hogsett said in a statement to WRTV.

Blaine Cromley, Williams' best friend of 11 years, told the New York Post that Williams wanted to work toward “ending violence.”

“He was going to do something with his life,” Cromley said to the Post. “He was so special. I looked up to him. All my friends looked up to him. He was the rock of my life.”

Williams also volunteered during breaks with Imana Kids, a faith-based education and sponsorship program for orphans in Rwanda. He worked with Rwandan students on confidence building, hygiene awareness, professional development and missionary work, said Kara L. Higgins, co-founder and co-director of the program.

Higgins, who is also a close friend of Williams’ parents, said Williams kept in contact with several students in the program when he was back in the United States. She said he had been learning Kinyarwanda, the national language of Rwanda, before his passing just so he could communicate better with his sponsor sister.

“Ethan saw every human being as one of God’s childrenand Ethan treated everyone that way," she said. "Ethan had a heart for people who are hurting.”

In a statement to WTHR, Williams’ father said, “If he had the opportunity to say something to the shooter, we know that he would invite him for a cup of coffee and ask to hear their story. He would forgive without delay.”

An online memorial fund was established to assist Williams’ family with unexpected expenses since his passing. It has collected more than $36,800 as of Sunday afternoon.

An earlier version of this story included an incorrect name. The IDS regrets this error.

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