Pedro Ruiz III (partially lost footage of accidental fatal shooting during stunt recording; 2017)
On 26th June 2017, YouTuber Pedro Ruiz III and his girlfriend Monalisa Perez were recording a video for a new channel, Damitboy. The video would show Perez firing a .50 caliber Desert Eagle at Ruiz, with the latter attempting to guard himself against the bullet with a hardcover encyclopedia. The stunt ended in tragedy when the bullet penetrated the book and hit Ruiz in the chest, killing him. While a video where Ruiz explained the stunt has publicly resurfaced, footage of the fatal shooting itself has been withheld from public viewing.
Ruiz and Perez had been in a long-term relationship, and had recorded many vlogs for their main YouTube channel La MonaLisa. However, Ruiz became eager to create a new channel called Damitboy, where he would film various dangerous stunts. His first idea for the channel was to film a stunt outside the couple's home in Halstad, Minnesota, where Perez would shoot him at close range to the chest, being protected only by a 1.5-inch hardcopy encyclopedia. According to Perez in a police interview, she was immediately concerned with this stunt and had refused to carry it out for over a month. Nevertheless, she ultimately agreed to conduct the shooting on 26th June 2017.
On the same day as the shooting, Perez had posted on Twitter, stating that she and her partner were to film "one of the most dangerous videos ever." Stating that it was exclusively Ruiz's idea, the pair would begin filming the stunt later that evening. Ruiz explained in one video that he wanted to find out whether a 50-caliber bullet from a Desert Eagle could penetrate a hardcover book. To do so, he planned to conduct a stunt where he would have his partner shoot at him while he was clutching the book to his chest. Despite acknowledging the danger surrounding this stunt, Ruiz remained adamant he would go ahead with it, stating "The most trustworthy person that I trust in this world is my girlfriend, Monalisa. So if I die, I'm pretty much ready to go to heaven right now. If I die, I'll be ready for Jesus. He probably won't accept me into the pearly gates because of how stupid this is. But I have confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me."
The Fatal Shooting
The stunt itself was to be viewed in person by about 30 others, including the couple's young daughter. However, Perez, who was pregnant with their second child and had already refused to do the stunt once before, again became reluctant to pull the trigger. In a transcript released by the court, Perez was clearly concerned that the stunt would end in the death of her partner, especially considering she was just one foot (30cm) away from her partner. She was also worried as to her fate if she was the one responsible for his demise. Ruiz remained insistent on conducting the stunt, reassuring Perez "As long as you hit the book. As long as you hit the book, you'll be fine. Come on, the battery's gonna die on it. Come closer." Perez refused once more, but with Ruiz remaining confident and demanding Perez fire the gun, she complied.
Ultimately, Perez's fears proved valid, as the bullet penetrated the book and hit Ruiz in the chest. He fell back onto the ground, with his final words reportedly being "Stop. Babe, stop. Babe." Although 911 was immediately called following the shooting, there was ultimately little that could be done to save Ruiz, as he passed away at the scene aged 22. Ruiz was described as the "life of the party", as well as being deemed the "big heart" of the Ruiz family. Perez would plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter on 15th December 2017, where she was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of supervised probation. She is also forbidden from ever owning firearms, and cannot make money from the case.
A 16-and-a-half-minute prelude video would be publicly released as part of news reports surrounding the fatal shooting. However, while footage of the shooting itself and aftermath were recorded on two different cameras and were recovered by the court systems, it will never be released to the public. In withholding the footage, Norman County Attorney James Brue summarised the clips as being "clearly offensive to common sensibilities." Nevertheless, a transcript of the unreleased footage was released as part of court documents.
- Buzzfeed News providing a detailed account surrounding Ruiz's motivation for the video and the fatal shooting. Retrieved 25th May '22
- ITV News reporting on Perez's sentencing and her and Ruiz's original channel. Retrieved 25th May '22
- BBC News reporting on Perez being jailed for second-degree manslaughter. Retrieved 25th May '22
- Sky News reporting on Perez's comments in court, including her trying to dissuade Ruiz from carrying out the stunt. Also contains Brue's comments surrounding not releasing the footage. Retrieved 25th May '22
- In Forum reporting on the Ruiz family's tributes a year after the fatal shooting. Retrieved 25th May '22