"This incident appears to be a random act," Brookhaven Police said of a stray bullet that killed Dr. Matthew Willson in his sleep, while he visited loved ones in Atlanta
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Dr Matthew Willson
Credit: Brookhaven Police

Georgia authorities are seeking help in identifying the person who discharged a stray bullet that killed a British scientist in his sleep.

Dr. Matthew Willson of Surrey, England was killed by a single gunshot to the head while lying in his bed at around 2 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 16., the Brookhaven Police Department tells PEOPLE in a statement.

Authorities assisted with administering aid until paramedics arrived and transported Willson, 31, to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries.

"This incident appears to be a random act involving individuals participating in the reckless discharge of firearm(s) which led to the tragic death of Dr. Willson," BPD shared.

Police were checking up on reports of multiple gunshots in an apartment complex one street over when they received the call regarding a man being shot in his sleep on the 3100 block of Clairmont Rd.

Willson, an astrophysicist, arrived in the Atlanta area three days earlier for a three-month trip, visiting loved ones, according to WSB-TV.

He was staying with his girlfriend, whom he met three years ago while they both studied astronomy at Georgia State University, where he received his PhD.

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She said she discovered Willson had been shot after she awoke to gunfire, although she didn't think a bullet would be able to pierce the wall. She and other neighbors noted that random gunfire had been a problem in the area for several months.

"They were just shooting a gun for fun. And they don't even know that they've taken such a beautiful person from us," Willson's sister told WSB-TV.

Brookhaven Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call 404-637-0636 or submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477). Tips leading to the arrest of individuals involved may be eligible for a cash reward through Crime Stoppers Atlanta.