When Monalisa Perez and her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz were planning their next YouTube stunt, they never expected it to go so horribly wrong. Ruiz convinced his girlfriend that it would work out fine, but now she’s having to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Monalisa Perez and Pedro Ruiz were a young couple from Halstad, Minnesota. Having become teenage parents early on in their relationship, they decided to start a YouTube channel named “La MonaLisa,” where they shared every detail of their lives.
The couple regularly uploaded vlogs about everyday events, and they also spent time putting together prank videos. Most of them weren’t too dangerous, but then in June 2017 the couple decided to take things one step further in their mission to become internet-famous.
The young parents had been together for half a decade and had a three-year-old daughter when they devised the stunt that shot them to fame for all the wrong reasons. As they were filming their latest escapade, something went badly awry.
Ruiz had asked his girlfriend to shoot a gun at him. But he convinced her that a bullet fired from a 50-calibre pistol would be stopped by a thick hardback book that he planned to hold over his chest. Tragically, though, he was mistaken.
Even before they carried out the prank, Perez took to Twitter to express her nervousness about it. “Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever,” she wrote, before adding, “His idea not mine.” Nonetheless, the couple still went ahead with it.
With two cameras turned on, Perez, who was pregnant with their second child at the time, took hold of the gun and pointed it at her boyfriend. Then, when she pulled the trigger, the bullet fired into the encyclopedia, piercing the book’s cover.
Shockingly, the bullet then travelled all the way through the thick book and hit Ruiz in the chest. It was never meant to happen that way, of course, but tragically Ruiz succumbed to the gunshot wound and died at the scene. And his three-year-old daughter witnessed the whole incident.
Although Perez called the emergency services and informed them that she had shot her boyfriend by accident, it was too late to save him. Although the couple had apparently been planning to carry out the prank for a while, neither of them seemed to believe that it could end in tragedy.
Family and friends of the couple were devastated by the incident. “I wish they wouldn’t have done it. I wish he would’ve just done another prank,” Ruiz’s aunt said to WDAY-TV. “They were in love. It was just a prank gone wrong. It shouldn’t have happened like this –it shouldn’t have happened at all.”
“He wanted to have so many babies. I remember him telling me,” the victim’s aunt continued. But just before the birth of his second child, Ruiz passed away in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. Perez, on the other hand, was left to deal with the guilt.
Although Ruiz was the mastermind behind the fatal prank, Perez was ultimately still responsible for her boyfriend’s death. Even though Ruiz had shown his girlfriend a different book with a bullet entry hole and no exit point as apparent proof that the encyclopedia would protect him, the one used in the prank had failed them.
In March 2018 Perez’s punishment for killing Ruiz was finally decided. Having given birth to the couple’s second child in September 2017 Perez, now a single mother-of-two, admitted to second-degree manslaughter as part of a plea deal.
By pleading guilty to the manslaughter charge, Perez was able to get out of a four-year-jail sentence. Instead, the mother was given a six-month prison term with specific clauses agreed by a Minnesota judge named Jeffrey Remick.
The judge agreed that Perez could spend the first 90 days of her sentence switching between jail and home. It was decided that she would serve ten days behind bars, before being allowed ten days back at home again. After that, she was granted permission to spend the last 90 days of her term at home.
In addition, Perez will have to undergo supervised probation for ten years, and she will never be permitted to own a gun in the future. Beyond that, the judge also ruled that the mother-of-two should never go on to make money off the back of the tragic case.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, the story sparked a heated debate online. Some people were stunned by the perceived idiocy of the stunt. “I’m both incredibly sad for the children and her and incredibly shocked by her stupidity… All of this for views? Sad world,” one Twitter used said.
However, others on social media were far more sympathetic towards Perez. “Yes, it was a stupid thing to do, but she has lost the love of her life and the children are fatherless due to a tragic error of judgment,” wrote another. “Her kids, family (as well as herself) must be going through hell.”
The same person also urged online critics to “show some humanity for God’s sake,” given that the whole thing was simply a heart-wrenching mistake. Moreover, Perez will be paying for the tragedy in the form of her 180-day sentence as well.
And she’ll be paying for it in another sense, too, of course. For the rest of her life, Perez will have to endure the heartache of losing her beloved partner. But perhaps even worse is that she’ll also have to live with the guilt of being one of the reasons why her two kids can’t be with their father.