A pregnant 19-year-old Minnesota woman has been charged with manslaughter after she fatally shot her boyfriend Monday during a YouTube “prank” gone wrong, according to police and family members.
Monalisa Perez shot Pedro Ruiz III in the chest from about a foot away with a .50 caliber Desert Eagle pistol while they recorded the stunt with two cameras, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. Their 3-year-old daughter was also in the room watching, police said.
Ruiz, a 22-year-old railroad worker, died at the scene outside the couple’s home in Halstad, according to the Norman County Sheriff’s Office. The shooting happened in the 500 block of Highway 75, the sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff’s office received a 911 call about 6:30 p.m. from Perez, telling them “her and her boyfriend were making a YouTube video and she accidentally shot him in the chest,” according to court documents.
“Perez reported that Pedro Ruiz III wanted to make a YouTube video of her shooting a book and he believed the book would stop the bullet,” the probable cause statement says. “Monalisa Perez pointed out cameras and stated the entire incident was recorded.”
The couple wanted to become famous on social media, family members said.
“There’s people out there doing crazy things to get these views, to get their numbers up,” Pedro’s aunt, Claudia Ruiz, told KVRR-TV. “I think they just need to think twice and … don’t do it.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Perez Tweeted They Were Going to ‘Shoot One of the Most Dangerous Videos Ever … HIS Idea Not MINE’
Monalisa Perez tweeted about the couple’s plan to make the shooting video just before she fatally shot Pedro Ruiz outside their Minnesota home.
“Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever😳😳 HIS idea not MINE🙈,” she wrote.
Ruiz’s aunt, Claudia Ruiz, told Valley News Live he had been talking about the stunt for awhile.
“It was just a prank gone wrong. It shouldn’t of happened like this. It shouldn’t have happened at all,” Claudia Ruiz told the news station. “”He had told me about an idea. I said, don’t do it, don’t do it. Why are you going to use a gun? Why? Because, we want more viewers. We want to get famous.”
County Attorney James Brue told the Star Tribune that Ruiz was holding a hardcover encyclopedia when he was shot in the chest by Perez.
Perez told a Norman County Sheriff’s Office deputy that Ruiz had been pushing for the video, which was recorded with one camera on the back of a parked vehicle and the other on a ladder, court documents obtained by Heavy show. You can read the full criminal complaint below:
Perez said Ruiz showed her another book he had shot and the bullet didn’t go all the way through, police said.
“Perez stated that she shot from about a foot away while [Ruiz] held the book to his chest,” according to the complaint.
She used a Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistol, a powerful handgun, according to The Truth About Guns.
“The Desert Eagle is a powerful .50 caliber pistol that is capable of producing muzzle velocities exceeding 1900 fps and muzzle energy of 2800 ft-lbs,” the website says in its review of the gun. “To put those numbers in perspective, .50AE bullets can travel twice as fast as .45s and hit with the force of a .308 Winchester.”
The reviewer writes that the Desert Eagle could “(punch) holes in engine blocks.”
A family member posted on Facebook, “He sent me a snapchat shooting a bookshelf of encyclopedias and said lets see how many books it would go through … it didn’t make it past the first book … but its different if you have 20 books stacked than just 1, dammit man i can’t believe it.”
After the shooting, emergency responders tried to save Ruiz’s life and a helicopter was called to the scene, but he was pronounced dead before it arrived. The couple lives in a rural area of Minnesota.
The videos recorded by the couple have been seized by investigators as evidence.
“Monalisa Perez then stated that Pedro Ruiz III had been trying to get her to shoot the book while he held it for a YouTube video for awhile. Pedro Ruiz III set up the GoPro (camera) on the back of a vehicle and the other camera on a ladder nearby,” the probable cause statement says. “Monalisa Perez reported that eventually Pedro Ruiz III convinced her to shoot the book.”
2. They Posted Their Final YouTube Video Just Hours Before the Shooting & Talked in It About Wanting to Be ‘Famous’ With 300,000 Followers
The couple posted their final YouTube video on Monday, just hours before the shooting, “DOING SCARY STUNTS AT THE FAIR | PART 1.” You can watch it above. The video was filmed at a local fair they attended with their 3-year-old daughter.
“Of course Pedro would be the one to try stupid things;),” Monalisa Perez wrote in a Facebook post while sharing the video.
In the video, Perez and Ruiz talk about wanting to become famous and have thousands of followers on YouTube.
“Imagine when we have 300,000 subscribers,” Perez said in the video.
Ruiz then said, “I told them, the bigger we get, I’ll be throwing parties.”
You can watch more of their videos below and here:
Their videos, posted to Perez’s page, “La MonaLisa,” had received less than a thousand views prior to the shooting, though the attention to the incident has led to more viewers.
She started the channel in March.
“Welcome to our channel loves!! Our Vlogs will show you the real life of a young couple who happen to be teen parents. From highs to lows. Achievements to struggles. Join the fun, Follow our journey!” she wrote in the “about” section of the channel.
Just before the shooting, Perez posted on Facebook about their plans for expanding their YouTube channel.
“We are In the process of making pedro a YouTube channel oh man is it going to be sweet! Lol,” she wrote. “All the crazy stuff will be on his channel and mine will be our family life!!!!”
3. Perez, Who Is More Than 25 Weeks Pregnant, Is a Stay-at-Home Mom Who Sells Products on Social Media & Posts ‘Family Vlogs’
Perez is more than 25 weeks pregnant, according to a video she posted on Youtube last week. She is a stay-at-home mother with a very active social media presence.
She has posted several videos on her Youtube page and calls herself a “family vlogger.”
She also sells fitness, beauty and health products on her Facebook page, often asking her friends to buy the products to help her and her family.
Both Perez and Ruiz have previously lived in Fargo, North Dakota, according to their social media pages, and Perez says she is originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
They began dating six years ago and Perez became pregnant with their daughter when she was 15, a family member told the Star Tribune.
The moved to a house in Minnesota after living together in a Fargo apartment, according to a post by Perez on Facebook in December 2016.
“Good morning my beautiful friends! 💕 time to get up and start moving! Finally my own home for my little family! No more apartments! It’s was nice living in Fargo, but on to bigger and better things ☺️ ✌️️,” she wrote.
She often posted about their relationship, writing in November, “I wouldn’t trade your stinky butt for the world! 💜a true relationship is two unperfect people refusing to give up on each other💋”
In October she posted photos with her daughter and Ruiz, writing, “These are the moments I live for. My goal is to be able to be a stay at home family, enjoying every little moment, going on adventures, and being financially content! And I won’t stop until my dream becomes a reality!!! If you can dream it, you can achieve it. So what’s stopping you from joining my team and having a life you WANT!?”
On Father’s Day earlier this year she wrote, “Happy FATHERS DAY BABY! ❤️ your such an amazing person inside and out! Let this day be all about you!!! 🙂🙃”
4. Ruiz, Who Worked for a Railroad Company, Was ‘So Young’ & ‘Had So Much Going for Himself,’ His Aunt Says
“I wish they wouldn’t have done it. I wish he would’ve just done another prank. He was so young. He had so much going for himself,” another aunt, Claudia Ruiz, told 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.”
Primeau told the Star Tribune she basically raised her nephew after his mother died in Texas when he was 5 and living there with his father didn’t work out.
“We called him our little daredevil,” Primeau told the newspaper. She said her nephew was always into chasing thrills, “putting a dangerous twist on everything he did,” like “jumping into the swimming pool from the top of the house, no hesitation. He was a crazy driver with go-carts.”
She told the newspaper Ruiz, “had plenty of guns. He liked guns.”
Claudia Ruiz said her nephew was excited about his growing family.
“He wanted to have so many babies. I remember him telling me,” she said.
She told KVRR-TV that Perez was a loving girlfriend to Pedro, who would do anything for him, and said she loves her daughter. She said Pedro was a hard worker, provider, family man and thrill seeker.
Claudia and Sam Ruiz, Pedro’s aunt and Uncle say Monalisa Perez was a loving girlfriend and mother who would do anything for Pedro.
She said the baby boy due in September will be named Pedro.
5. Perez Is Facing Up to 10 Years in Prison if Convicted of Manslaughter & Has Been Released on $7,000 Bond
Monalisa Perez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, a charge that carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison, the Star Tribune reports.
She was initially charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, and it is not clear if she is still also facing that charge along with manslaughter. The more serious charge was filed Wednesday morning following an investigation, according to court documents. She had been in custody since the Monday shooting.
Perez was being held at the Northwest Regional Correction Center in Crookston, Minnesota. She was scheduled to make her first appearance, via video, at Norman County District Court on Wednesday.
The fact that she has got to live with this for the rest of her life, that alone, is a charge to me,” Pedro’s aunt, Claudia Ruiz, told Valley News Live.
Another aunt, Lisa Primeau, told the Star Tribune the family is supporting Perez.
“It’s a tragic incident. What she did … she has to live with that,” Primeau told the newspaper. “It’s the worst punishment she can get. She is pregnant with their second kid. It’s just heartbreaking.”
Perez will be appointed a public defender, according to court documents. She was granted conditional release from jail after posting $7,000 bond. You can see the conditional release order below:
The court provided multiple options for her to post bail, court documents show. She could have posted a $100,000 surety bond on $200,000 bail to be released without any conditions. Instead, she posted a $7,000 surety bond on $50,000 bail with several conditions. She will not be allowed to possess firearms, will have to keep her attorney notified of her whereabouts and phone number and would need to wear a GPS monitor to leave the state of Minnesota.
She is due back in court on July 5.