A 19-year-old U.S. woman faces a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting her boyfriend in a YouTube stunt gone wrong, with the sheriff on Thursday dismissing claims that it was an accident.
Monalisa Perez shot 22-year-old aspiring YouTube star Pedro Ruiz on Monday after he convinced her to fire at him with a powerful handgun from about a foot away, while he held an encyclopedia in front of his chest, authorities in the state of Minnesota said in court documents.
Ruiz had presented another book, with a bullet hole on one side and no exit hole, as evidence that the encyclopedia would stop the bullet, police said. “Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever,” Perez wrote Monday on Twitter. “HIS idea not MINE.”
Ruiz died at the scene from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Police recovered a .50 caliber pistol used in the stunt, which was filmed by GoPro cameras that Ruiz had set up.
Ruiz had been trying to build an online following by performing dangerous stunts, according to police and media reports. He and Perez had a YouTube channel called “La MonaLisa,” with videos dating back one month in which the couple published accounts of their daily lives.
The couple have a three-year-old daughter who reportedly witnessed the incident.
Family and friends told U.S. media that the death was an accident. They said Ruiz had been talking about performing the stunt for some time but they had tried to talk him out of it. “I said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,’” Claudia Ruiz, the man’s aunt, told local TV station KVLY, adding that his response was, “We want more viewers.”
Norman County Sheriff Jeremy Thornton dismissed the claims of an accidental shooting. “I wouldn’t call it an accident. It was an act that was purposely done,” Thornton told AFP. “An accident would be an accidental discharge,” he said.
Perez, who is pregnant with their second child, was released from jail on $7,000 bail on a second-degree manslaughter charge, on condition that she wear a GPS monitor and not access firearms, according to TV station KVRR.