His family wasn't even aware that he had a gun.
Malachi Hemphill, a 13-year-old boy from Georgia, accidentally shot and killed himself while streaming live on Instagram on Monday and was discovered by his mother, Shaniqua Stephens, and his sister. It was Monday afternoon after Malachi had just taken the trash out when he got on his phone and started streaming live on the social media app.
In the stream, he was handling a gun that he reportedly traded for his iPhone several days earlier, and his mother later discovered that someone had asked him why there was no clip in the gun. They then told him to put one in, and upon doing so Malachi accidentally fired the gun and shot himself in the head.
Stephens and her daughter raced up the stairs after hearing a “big boom” and Stephens had to kick down the door in order to reach Malachi, who they found lying in a pool of blood.
“My daughter screamed and said, ‘Mom turn his phone off!” she recounted. “As I proceeded to look at his phone he was on Instagram Live.”
Malachi was rushed to a nearby hospital in Atlanta, where he later died of his injuries. When the accident happened, 40 to 50 kids rushed to Malachi’s house after seeing what occurred on Instagram. According to his mother, many of the neighborhood kids were watching at the time on one of Malachi’s many accounts.
Stephens maintains that this was a complete accident and that her son did not purposefully kill himself. Shantiera Bankston, Malachi’s godmother, told WGCL that he was an active kid who “loved dancing,” and was full of life. Malachi’s stepfather, Ernest Stephens, said,
“When the accident happened inside that room, he was fighting from the time it happened, before the ambulance got here, he was still fighting.”
His mother has since said that parents need to monitor their child’s phone and monitor their children in general. Stephens had no idea that her son was in possession of a gun, who they believe he obtained from a friend who got it from someone else. She explained that if just one person had spoken up and told her or their own parent that he had a gun, this whole accident might have been prevented. Despite Malachi’s parents keeping a close eye on his many social media profiles, they still weren’t able to know what was fully going on in his life, which is what led to his death.
“This is just a pain that will never go away,” Stephens said. “He was my only son. He was just only 13. Just the thought of me seeing him on the floor will never leave my brain.”
“It can happen to the best parents,” said Ernest Stephens, “It can happen to the best people.”