Ethan Williams’ father says the son became friends with the killer

The heartbroken father of an Illinois tourist who was gunned down on a Brooklyn stairway said Friday his son would have tried to befriend the killer had he not opened fire.

Just moments after William Freeman, 26, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the October 23, 2020 murder of Ethan Williams, 20, outside his Bushwick Airbnb, the victim’s father was asked about his slain son.

“He would have invited that guy on the stairs to hang out if he hadn’t shot him,” Jason Williams replied when asked how he would like his son to be remembered.

“He would have wanted to be his friend.”

Ethan had realized a lifelong dream of visiting the Big Apple and was in town for a skateboarding tournament when he was fatally shot while sitting on a stair case with friends in front of his rented Airbnb.

Ethan Williams (right) and his father Jason pose in an undated photo.
Ethan Williams (right) and his father Jason pose in an undated photo.
William Freeman, 26, appears in a khaki jumpsuit before the Brooklyn Supreme Court.
William Freeman pleaded not guilty to murder and gun possession.
Gabriella Bass

Freeman managed to evade police for more than two years before they finally arrested him on Nov. 3 after a car he was in was pulled over by police, prosecutors said.

He allegedly confessed to the crime while in custody and told police he mistook Ethan and his friends for a group who had killed his cousin a few weeks earlier.

Outside of court, Freeman’s attorney Jay Schwitzman said his client made a “false confession” and was allegedly coerced into admitting to the crime after police promised he could go home if he disclosed what happened.

“My position is that this is a false confession. Once I have the details and look at them, I’m confident that at the end of the day you’ll see that promises were made, either official or unofficial, to mislead him,” Schwitzman said.

Ethan Williams is pictured smiling in an undated photo.
Ethan Williams had long dreamed of visiting New York City before he was killed while visiting.
Williams family

He also questioned the strength of other evidence against his client.

“They say this is such a strong case, but two years have passed and as of (last week) my client was not arrested. That’s another factor we’ll be investigating as this investigation progresses,” the defense attorney said.

“There’s no explanation as to why. If they have such a strong case, why didn’t they arrest him in the two years that this incident took place? So I’m going to look at that and the false confession.”

Jason Williams speaks on Fox and Friends.
Jason Williams said his son would have tried to befriend his killer if he hadn’t opened fire on him.

Ethan’s parents said they seek justice.

“It’s just all very sad. We miss Ethan, we look forward to justice,” said Ethan’s mother, Susan Williams.

“He was a good boy. He didn’t deserve any of this.”

Ethan Williams poses next to a friend in his graduation cap and evening gown.
Ethan Williams was a sophomore in film at Illinois University when he was killed.
Williams family

Freeman was charged with murder and weapons possession last week and was remanded back to Rikers Island during the brief arraignment on the charge, where he made no comment other than answering yes-or-no questions.

“Ethan Williams was a kind and compassionate young man with his whole life ahead of him,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement.

“His visit to New York City was the culmination of a lifetime dream and his untimely and unnecessary death is appalling and heartbreaking.”

Freeman’s relatives have not commented on the case. He is scheduled to appear in court on February 23. Ethan Williams’ father says the son became friends with the killer


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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