Dying To Be Famous

On Monday, 26th June 2017, Pedro Ruiz III died after his girlfriend, Monalisa Perez, shot him in the chest with a .50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun. Apparently, this was Pedro’s idea.

The YouTube Channel

In March 2017, Pedro and Monalisa set up a YouTube channel that they claimed “will show you the real life of a young couple who happen to be teen parents. From highs to lows. Achievements to struggles.”

The videos varied in nature, with some titles such as ‘TEEN PARENTS: Creating Memories❤?’ and ‘We find out baby’s gender??’ as well as others along the lines of “Staying at a HAUNTED HOTEL!!” and “ULTIMATE DIRTY DARE CHALLENGE!!! GONE WRONG”.

The title of the video uploaded on Monday, 26th June 2017 was “DOING SCARY STUNTS AT THE FAIR | PART 1”.

The Next Video

Later on that day, the couple had planned to film their next video.

Monalisa had tweeted that this was going to be “one of the most dangerous videos ever”. Their plan for the video was for Pedro to stand in front of Monalisa, who was six months pregnant with their second child at the time, and hold a hardback encyclopedia in front of his chest as she stood about a foot (30cm) away and shot a handgun at the book.

Pedro had previously told his aunt that he had wanted to do this stunt for a while. She told him that she didn’t think it was a good idea and asked why he would do such a thing. “Because, we want more viewers. We want to get famous.” was his reply.

According to Monalisa, he had even practised the stunt before, by shooting at a book. When he showed her that the bullet didn’t go all the way through the pages, she was convinced to take part.

A crowd of nearly 30 people looked on as they stood outside their home in Norman County, Minnesota, USA, and set up two cameras to film their stunt. Their 3-year-old daughter was one of those watching on.

In a call to the police at 6:30pm local time, Monalisa reported that she and Pedro “were making a YouTube video and she accidentally shot him in the chest.” By the time medical personnel had arrived at the scene, Pedro had already passed away.

Monalisa Perez was arrested and immediately taken into custody at Northwest Regional Corrections Center in Crookston, Minnesota. She was charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree and went to court on 5th July 2017.

Monalisa Perez gave birth to their second child, a son, in September 2017.

The Verdict

Perez pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and in March 2018 was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Minnesota Judge Jeffrey Remick. The full details were as follows:

  • Perez must serve a 180-day jail term, alternating between 10 days in jail and 10 days out for the first six months, amounting to 90 days behind bars. The remaining 90 days can be served in home confinement. The jail time can be served in South Dakota, where she now lives.
  • She must serve 10 years of supervised probation.
  • She is banned for life from owning firearms.
  • She must make no financial gain from the case.

This is far more lenient than the punishment that could have been handed down but Norman County Attorney James Brue said “the reality is that this foolish stunt was dreamed up, planned and executed by Pedro Ruiz, and the defendant wrongfully and tragically relied on his assurances that the stunt was safe”.