A pregnant Monalisa Perez cried and pleaded with her boyfriend several times to put a stop to a YouTube stunt, but the man urged her on, eventually dying after she fired a gun at him as he held an encyclopedia in front of his chest.
Norman County authorities released videos, evidence and transcripts Friday showing that Pedro Ruiz III, 22, methodically planned and directed Perez, who was 19 at the time, in the June 26, 2017, incident. Perez, 20, pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced in March to 180 days in jail on one count of second-degree manslaughter. She also received a lifetime ban from owning firearms or profiting from telling the story of Ruiz’s death.
“I can’t do it babe,” Perez told Ruiz at one point in a transcript from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). “I’m so scared.”
The videos show a heavily pregnant Perez appearing winded and tired at times as Ruiz recorded several versions of the same action.
Ruiz said in his videos that he would post stunt videos weekly and hoped to raise money to support his endeavor.
He said he wanted to be “crazier” than famous stunt stars like the men behind MTV’s hit series, “Jackass.”
“I may fail, but if I fail I want to die trying,” Ruiz said. “We’re all going to die anyways. It’s just a matter of how and when.”
The couple bantered back and forth lightly in the videos, laughing and directing each other for what was supposed to be the first video on Ruiz’s YouTube channel. Perez already had her own channel, which included pranks and family-oriented videos.
“So, my channel is gonna be all the crazy stuff that Pedro does,” Ruiz said in one video. “…Who’s Pedro? I’m Pedro, the crazy Pedro, the Pedro that makes you say, ‘Damn it, boy.’ ”
Wearing a white V-neck T-shirt and white shorts, Ruiz promised antics that would balance out Perez’s family vlogs. The couple have a 3-year-old child and were expecting their second at the time.
Acting under Ruiz’s instructions, Perez presented the camera with a black-and-gold .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol nestled on a red pillow.
Ruiz talked up the gun, noting that it was a limited release item and was adorned with tiger stripes. He showed off the size of the bullet, laying it across the face of his watch.
“If I’m gonna die I’m pretty much ready to go to heaven right now,” he said. “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.”
Perez laughed at Ruiz’s remarks.
“But I have confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me,” Ruiz said. “Let’s do it.”
Perez groaned audibly.
Footage of the shooting itself was not released. Perez told BCA investigators that when she pulled the trigger, the gun’s barrel was about a foot away from a book Ruiz was holding about a foot or two from his chest.
A round passed through the hardcover encyclopedia and killed Ruiz outside their home in the northwestern Minnesota town of Halstad.
A transcript of a video the couple filmed provides this account, in part, of the events leading up to the shooting:
“This is the moment of truth, babe,” Ruiz said to Perez. “Gotta make sure I’m right where the book is. Ah, point the gun.”
Ruiz instructed Perez on how to hold the gun.
“Yep, yep,” he said. “Gotta make sure the GoPro has you. Come a little bit more, little more. Right there. Safety’s off. ‘Kay …”
Ruiz continued to instruct Perez on where to aim.
Perez cried, according to the transcript.
“Stop, babe,” Perez pleaded.
Ruiz continued with his instructions as Perez tried to back out.
“Babe, if I kill you what’s gonna happen to my life,” she said. “Like, no this isn’t OK.”
She pleaded another time for Ruiz to stop the stunt. Once she fired the gun, she immediately called 911, but Ruiz died at the scene.
Perez later told a BCA investigator that Ruiz had previously practiced shooting into a book, and that for a month she had resisted his plans to replicate the stunt. Authorities recovered the presumed practice book, also an encyclopedia, with a .50-caliber bullet still lodged halfway inside.
But the force of the round Perez fired at Ruiz threw him backward.
“Oh [expletive],” she said Ruiz exclaimed before succumbing to his injuries.
Perez’s sentence fell below state guidelines, but Norman County Attorney James Brue said at the time that he was satisfied that the sentence held her accountable.