When Ava Majury opened her account on TikTok in 2020, at age 13, during confinement, she dreamed of being the new Charli D’Amelio, the star of the social network with 136.7 million subscribers, of signing sponsorship contracts and, who knows, one day on TV. If today, the 15-year-old schoolgirl (now 1.2 million subscribers strong) continues interviews and TV sets, supervised by her parents, Robert and Kimberly, it is above all to evoke the dark side of her popularity on social networks.
Because, on the night of July 10, 2021, at 4 a.m., his father, a 51-year-old former police officer, shot an 18-year-old fan, Eric Justin, with a pistol shot in his garden. The young man had traveled nearly 1800 km, from Ellicott City, Maryland, to Ava’s home in Naples, Florida. In his luggage, Eric had slipped two cell phones containing thousands of photos of Ava, and a shotgun. To meet the young girl, he was ready to do anything, even to fire a rifle to pulverize the front door.
“The detonation echoed in my chest”
When the shot rang out, the Majury panicked. “The explosion resonated in my chest,” recalls Ava, who takes refuge with her two brothers in the parents’ room. As Kimberly calls the police, Robert spots a young man in his yard, gun in hand, wearing a blue vest with earplugs and safety glasses. The former cop sets off in pursuit, but falls. The shooter flees.
While waiting for the police, Robert decides to stand guard with his pistol in front of the front door. And Eric Justin comes back, armed. The father of the family orders him to throw down his weapon, but when the young man points the barrel of his rifle at him, the retired policeman retaliates and fires a bullet which kills him instantly. “My husband did the right thing,” Kimberly told TV. Robert will not be prosecuted due to the law of self-defense.
“He did math homework for a classmate of Ava’s in exchange for info on our daughter”
For months, Eric had been obsessed with their daughter. All means were good to get closer to her. “He even did math homework for a classmate in exchange for info on Ava,” protested the parents. Unscrupulous, some comrades also agreed to sell him personal information about the teenager, such as her address or telephone number. As early as 2020, Ava had noticed Eric’s pushy attitude on TikTok.
At first, she responds to him like she does with all her fans. He asks her if he can buy her some selfies. She agrees, with her parents’ agreement, to sell him two photos for $300. “It was just pictures of my face. […] All my thing is my pretty smile, it’s my content”, explains the teenager to the New York Times. But Eric wants more. He asks her for full-length photos, then shots of her buttocks. Ava then blocks him on all his social networks. The stalking fan begs her to unblock him by offering money, up to over $600.
“Her stuff on TikTok is such a big part of our daughter that taking it away from her would be difficult”
Ava’s father intervenes and reminds her, in writing, that his daughter is a minor and that he must stop harassing her. Undeterred, Eric tells a classmate of Ava’s intention to assault her: “I think I could just open the door with a shotgun.” On learning this, Ava’s parents do research on the young man and discover that he lives nearly 2000 km from their home. “We concluded that it would not go further …” They were far from realizing that violence on social networks has consequences in real life. For a time, Ava’s parents considered cutting TikTok from their daughter, and Ava was silent… for a few weeks.
“Her designs, her contacts, her videos became such a big part of her that taking them away from her would have been difficult,” her father told The New York Times. “We know some people won’t understand,” confirms her mother. Since then, Ava has used the services of an agent. She will soon fly to L.A., where some Hollywood reality TV producers are making eyes at her. On the other hand, finished the life of schoolgirl. For her safety, Ava now follows her schooling by correspondence. She filed a harassment complaint against the classmate who was conversing with Eric and who she says is still following her. Welcome to real life…
Ava Majury and Eric Justin © INSTAGRAM AVA.MAJURY