When YouTube was just beginning to create big stars, Kyle Myers was able to fill a very specific niche, by popular demand. With the persona of Dmitri Potapoff, he created the FPSRussia channel, where he demonstrated a variety of firearms and explosives. In 2013, a member of the FPSRussia crew was found dead. There was an investigation, and later a raid by the ATF. Now, FPSRussia is again one of the most popular firearms channels on YouTube. What happened in the interim?
Kyle Myers Before FPSRussia
Born in Hart County, Georgia, in 1986, Kyle Myers began making Let’s Play-style videos when YouTube was still an independent company, around 2007. The videos showed him playing an assortment of first-person-shooter video games, but usually, he would play Call of Duty. He hosted them on a channel with several other YouTube personalities.
In his professional life, Myers was working at a car dealership, where he worked with a Russian co-worker. This inspired Myers to create Dimitri Potapoff, a persona he first tried out on his Let’s Play videos. Around that time, he also had the idea to start demonstrating some of the guns used in the game Call of Duty in real life. On September 1, 2010, Myers created the FPSRussia channel and began uploading videos.
FPSRussia: YouTube Hit
At first, FPSRussia’s videos just highlighted some of the real-world versions of the guns used in the Call of Duty game series. Kyle, playing Dmitri Potapoff, would explain a little bit about the history and characteristics of the firearm, and then test it out on a variety of targets: fruits, plastic bottles, fake zombies, and early on, large photos of pop sensation Justin Bieber.
Within a year, his channel hit 1 million subscribers, and that meant FPSRussia had a much bigger budget. Myers began working with local friends, including Keith Ratliff, who helped source some of the firearms, ammunition, and explosives for the show. FPSRussia began demonstrating some eccentric firearms and other equipment. ‘Dmitri’ played with a golden AK-47, an anti-aircraft cannon, a .50cal Browning machine-gun, and even an armored personnel carrier. Keith Ratliff also began helping the show get tannerite. Ratliff, who owned a firearm repair business near Myers’ farm, was also able to legally obtain the things necessary to make the explosive tannerite, because they were non-explosive on their own. Tannerite intended to be detonated by being shot by a high-velocity bullet, which is what the FPSRussia team used it for, sometimes to detonate pictures of Justin Bieber.
The channel continued to grow, and on October 29, 2012, Kyle Myers even had a cameo appearance as Dmitri in the live-action Call of Duty: Black Ops II trailer. He also created a second channel, MoreFPSRussia. That December, they announced they were planning to release a game for iOS.
Keith Ratliff Murder & ATF Raid
On January 6, 2013, Keith Ratliff, who’d been responsible for sourcing the materials used on FPSRussia was found shot in the head. Due to the angle of the shot, police suspected it was an intentional homicide. Ratliff was found in his own gun store, and was armed but had not drawn his gun, leading many to draw the same conclusion Ratliff’s brother told reporters: “For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody. Either that or he was ambushed.”
Production of FPSRussia stopped for around a month after Ratliffe’s death, though any suspicion cast on Kyle Myers or the rest of the FPS crew was never made public by investigators. Then, on March 29, 2013, the ATF raided Myers’ and his father’s farms, where Myers frequently filmed. The ATF told the press that Myers was being paid through YouTube to use explosives, which while technically true also isn’t criminal. Complicating things further, the local county sheriff, Stevie Thomas, went on the record saying the ATF was there to assist in investigating Keith Ratliff’s murder, which the ATF should not have been involved in.
Regardless of the actual intent of the raid, no one was arrested, no charges filed, and nothing was seized from the property. However, the murder and ATF helped encourage Myers to put FPSRussia on hiatus. They weren’t his only motivations, however. The videos were relatively expensive to film, and the older episodes were still generating lots of new views and ad revenue.
What is FPSRussia Doing Now in 2018
Though Kyle Myers was taking a break from FPSRussia, he didn’t stop producing YouTube content. Since 2010, around when FPSRussia was starting, he’d been on the podcast Painkiller Already with several other prominent YouTuber personalities. He also created the FPS channel on YouTube, which allowed him to return to making Let’s Plays for a wider audience. He appeared on other channels as well.
After a nine-month hiatus, FPSRussia started releasing new episodes. The first one came out on January 10, 2014. Since then, he has continued to gather YouTube subscribers, as of April 2016 he over 6 million subscribers with more than 728 million views. Most recently, ‘Dmitri’ has tested personal flamethrowers, a double-barreled shotgun, and even a WWII tank. Since returning from the hiatus, it is notable that the channel hasn’t been using tannerite in any of its shots, leading to the conclusion that the FPSRussia crew may be unable to procure the explosive without Ratliff’s help.
The YouTube star was arrested in August of 2017 on drug charges. Meyers was charged with a felony and subsequently has not uploaded a new video to his YouTube channel in the last year.
A lot of people wonder what conclusion, if any, the investigation into Keith Ratliff’s death had. Publicly, there have been no updates since they initially announced the investigation. Kyle Myers, in an episode of Painkiller Already, briefly discussed the situation, but without providing any information that wasn’t already known. While there is an abundance of conspiracy theories online, without concrete information, they’re simply speculations.