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Girlfriend of British scientist killed by stray bullet describes his final moments: ‘I held him while we waited for the ambulance’

The girlfriend of a British scientist killed by a stray bullet has broken her silence following his death.

Matthew Willson, 31, travelled from Chertsey, Surrey to visit partner Katherine Shepard on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia.

But just three days after he arrived in the US, the astrophysicist was shot in what has been described a “random act” involving the “reckless discharge of firearms”.

He died after a bullet pierced the wall of a neighbouring block of flats in Brookhaven, a city in the suburbs of northeast Atlanta, on 16 January, authorities said.

Ms Shepard, who had been dating Mr Willson for three years, recalled the moments leading up to the tragedy which claimed his life.

“He was supposed to be here for three months because we’ve been long distance for a while,” she told network WSB-TV.

“I picked him up from the airport, took him to his favourite eating location, and the next day, he’s gone.”

The couple woke up on 16 January to the sound of more than 30 gunshots coming from an apartment complex directly behind Ms Shepard’s.

A bullet travelled through her wall, hitting Mr Willson, she said.

Ms Shepard called the police who had already been deployed to the area after the shots were fired.

“I held him for another 20 minutes while we waited for the ambulance,” she said.

“And while we were waiting, there were more gunshots fired.”

Mr Willson suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.

He has been described as a “much-loved” member of the astrophysics team at the University of Exeter.

“Matthew Willson was a former PhD student at the University of Exeter and much-loved member of our astrophysics team,” a university spokesman said in a statement.

“We have been informed about his tragic death in the US and our hearts go out to his family, friends and colleagues. We are offering support to colleagues at the university who will also want to commemorate his life.”

No arrests have yet been announced and police have appealed to the public for help to find those responsible.

The Foreign Office has confirmed it is supporting Dr Willson’s family and is in contact with authorities in the US.

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