YouTube star shot dead in stunt gone wrong

Ms Monalisa Perez and Mr Pedro Ruiz in a screenshot from a YouTube video entitled Doing Scary Stunts At The Fair Part 1, which was posted on Monday, the same day she shot him dead in a stunt for a video.
Ms Monalisa Perez and Mr Pedro Ruiz in a screenshot from a YouTube video entitled Doing Scary Stunts At The Fair Part 1, which was posted on Monday, the same day she shot him dead in a stunt for a video.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

A 19-year-old woman from Minnesota has been arrested for shooting her boyfriend in the chest in a social media stunt that went horribly wrong.

Ms Monalisa Perez was watched on Monday by nearly 30 onlookers as she fired a handgun at her boyfriend, Mr Pedro Ruiz, while he held a book to his chest believing it would stop the bullet, reported the BBC.

The couple's three-year-old child also witnessed the fatal stunt, which Mr Ruiz's aunt, Ms Claudia Ruiz, said the couple had carried out to increase their social media following. Ms Ruiz told reporters from WDAY-TV that Mr Ruiz had said he wanted to do the stunt in order to get "more followers... to get famous".

The young couple had started a YouTube channel in March this year, hoping to show "the real life of a young couple who happen to be teen parents".

Last week, Ms Perez, who is pregnant, said on the channel that it was a "blessing" that Mr Ruiz could be home for the birth of their son, who is due in September.

She now faces charges of second-degree manslaughter.

The police have seized two cameras, which are said to have recorded the incident.

According to county attorney James Brue, the handgun used was a .50-calibre Desert Eagle, while the book was a simple hardcover encyclopaedia.

Ms Ruiz said: "(Mr Ruiz) had told me about that idea and I said, 'Don't do it. Don't do it. Why are you going to use a gun? Why?'"

The weapon was fired from a mere 30cm away as neighbours gathered to watch the stunt at the couple's home.

One neighbour, Mr Wayne Cameron, told local media: "Everyone was crying. I was standing behind that tree over there. And that was it. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I had to go back home."

Ms Perez told the authorities that the stunt was Mr Ruiz's idea, and that he had convinced her to do it despite her reservations.

Earlier in the day, she had tweeted: "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever... HIS idea not MINE."

Ms Ruiz said: "They were in love, they loved each other. It was just a prank gone wrong."

Timothy Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'YouTube star shot dead in stunt gone wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe