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Crime

Pregnant YouTuber Shoots and Kills Her Boyfriend in Video Stunt Gone Wrong: Police

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A 19-year-old pregnant woman with plans of YouTube stardom is facing a second-degree manslaughter charge in Minnesota after she shot and killed her boyfriend as part of a video stunt gone terribly wrong, according to police.

Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, said she accidentally killed 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III on Monday when she shot him in the chest, according to the criminal complaint against her, which was obtained by PEOPLE.

Ruiz is the father of Perez’s 3-year-old daughter and their unborn son, authorities said.

The two began posting videos to YouTube in May and hoped to grow their slowly-swelling popularity by filming a stunt in which Perez shot directly at an encyclopedia that Ruiz was holding in front of his chest, the complaint states.

Perez later told law enforcement that both she and Ruiz believed the book would stop the bullet, according to the complaint. They were filming outside Perez’s home, with two cameras mounted nearby.

In a tweet apparently sent by Perez earlier on Monday, she wrote, “Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever😳😳 HIS idea not MINE.”

Monalisa Pere
Northwest Regional Corrections Center/AP

The complaint, filed Wednesday, states that Perez fired at Ruiz — who was holding up a hardcover encyclopedia — with a gold Desert Eagle .50 caliber handgun, which is considered among the most powerful pistols ever made. 

As cameras were rolling Monday evening, Perez picked up the handgun and, while standing just a foot away, shot the book that Ruiz was holding in front of him, according to the complaint. (Authorities have since recovered video of the incident.)

The bullet passed through the book and entered Ruiz’s chest, killing him.

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Perez called 911 about 6:30 p.m. and told dispatchers she had accidentally shot her boyfriend in the chest, according to the complaint. Ruiz was pronounced dead soon after emergency responders arrived at the scene.

According to the complaint, Perez told investigators that Ruiz had practiced the stunt before, shooting other books that had halted the path of the bullet. He had even shown one of the books to his girlfriend, trying to convince her the stunt was safe, she said.

If convicted of manslaughter, Perez faces up to 10 years in prison. It was unclear Thursday if she had entered a plea to the charge or had retained a lawyer who could comment on her behalf.

She has been released on $7,000 bail on the condition she wear a GPS monitor. She is also barred from having access to firearms. Efforts to reach her directly were not immediately successful on Thursday.

Ruiz’s family could also not immediately be reached, but an aunt described him to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as “our little daredevil” and said he was studying to be a foreman while working at a railway company.

“I really have no idea what they were thinking,” the county sheriff told the New York Times. “I just don’t understand the younger generation on trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.”

Ruiz’s aunt told the Star-Tribune that her family was supporting Perez after the shooting.

“It’s a tragic incident,” she said. “What she did … she has to live with that. It’s the worst punishment she can get. She is pregnant with their second kid. It’s just heartbreaking.”