Zack Stoner, the 30-year-old founder of ZackTV1, one of the most popular YouTube channels chronicling black cultural life in Chicago, was shot and killed while driving in the city's South Loop neighborhood on Wednesday morning (May 30). According to WGN TV, the shooting took place around 1:30 a.m. when Stoner (frequently referred to as Zack TV) was shot in the head and neck before his Jeep drove up on a curb and crashed into a light pole; a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department confirmed the details of the shooting but had no additional information at press time.
Stoner was transported to Northwest Memorial Hospital where he later died of his wounds. WGN reported that police said a Chevy Caprice was also involved in the crash and witnesses reported a group of people jumped out of the Caprice and got into a third car that drove away from the scene. At press time, the Chicago PD spokesperson said no suspects were in custody and the investigation was ongoing. Video has emerged of the crash scene; the three people can be seen piling into the other car.
ZackTV1 was known for its no-nonsense, raw street reporting on Chicago's hip-hop community, with Stoner posting more than 1,700 videos on a channel that had amassed more than 170,000 subscribers since 2009.
“I wanted to show the world the other side of Chicago. Back when I was growing up, we had Common and Kanye West. Those are great brothers and great entertainers, but I didn’t think they represented Chicago the way that I’ve seen Chicago,” Stoner told the Chicago Defender in an April 16 interview in which Stone referred to his channel as a "Hood CNN" that shows "both sides" of issues. “I wanted to show the world what the other side of Chicago looks like…our culture––the way we dress, what we eat, how we talk, how we walk.”
The Defender wrote that Stoner "documents what others neglect and repeatedly interviews personalities who many had hoped would never grace a camera. His videos are not fluffy, glitzy, and sentimental documentary shorts; on the contrary, they are more like visceral punches to the gut that can leave you either inspired for change or disturbed by reality."
Stoner was credited with giving some of the city's most controversial artists their first on-camera exposure, including then-teenage drill music pioneer Chief Keef, while also posting clips that showed young men from rival gang sets flashing guns and threatening each other. ZackTV was also the place where one of Stoner's mentors, Tony Woods, went in November when his for-profit community organization, Good Brothers, went to try and broker a peace treaty between two rival gangs in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood. He often ended his videos with the question, "What can we do to resolve the violence in Chicago?"
Tributes poured in all morning on Twitter, with many praising Stoner for his work to shine a light on the people often overlooked by the mainstream media.
The most recent video posted on ZackTV1 was posted on Sunday (May 27), featuring Drake of Chiraq discussing the death of "Mubu Krump" and King Yella in a federal prison.