Feedback
News

Family Reeling After 13-Year-Old Accidentally Kills Self on Instagram Live

While sitting in her kitchen Monday night, Shaniqua Stephens suddenly heard a loud bang coming from her son Malachi's room.

She ran upstairs to investigate along with her daughter, both yelling his name. After kicking down his locked door, they discovered the 13-year-old laying on the floor in a pool of blood, with his phone opened to Instagram.

Police Search For Owner of Gun Used in Accidental Shooting Streamed on Instagram 1:48

"I was just screaming 'Call 911, call 911,'" Shaniqua Stephens, Malachi's mother, told NBC News. Hours later, she said, the boy died at a local hospital.

Now, police in Forest Park, Georgia are trying to trace where Malachi Nasir Hemphill got the Hi-Point 9 mm pistol he was handling before he accidentally shot himself in the head on Monday.

His mother says at least 10 to 15 people watched the shooting in real-time on Instagram and immediately rushed to the home. She said her son was attempting to put a clip in the gun when it went off.

Authorities have filed paperwork in hopes of obtaining the social media evidence and say charges are possible. No signs point to the shooting being suicide, police said.

Image: Candles burn around a photo of Malachi Hemphill
Candles burn around a photo of Malachi Hemphill in Atlanta on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Malachi Hemphill was live on the social media site Instagram handling a gun when it went off on Monday. He was rushed to Grady Hospital where he died. Courtesy Helen Hemphill

"The circumstances [of Malachi's death] are certainly tragic ," said Forest Park Police Major Chris Matson at a press conference Thursday afternoon. "This is a horrific event, not only for parents and children, but also horrific for us."

Helen Hemphill, Malachi's grandmother, believes one of Malachi's friends traded him the gun for an iPhone. His mother, who was not aware her son had a weapon in the house, said police are now looking for where the friend obtained the pistol.

"He knows better than that," Helen Hemphill said. "It's too easy to get a gun. You have a law that says that if you turn 18 and have a good record, you can go and get a gun. You make it so easy for them."

And she says Malachi's death has hit the community hard.

Nearly 200 friends, relatives and neighbors attended a candlelight vigil held in Malachi's memory three days after his death. Babbs Middle School, where Malachi Hemphill was a 7th grader, has brought in counselors to help grieving children and dozens of students have written goodbye cards to their former classmate.

Helen Hemphill, who drove her grandson to school every morning, described him as a "comical and energetic kid" who loved singing and dancing. He also played football for his school and church.

"He was not a bad kid at all. He was a wonderful kid and a great grandson," she said. "I picked him up every morning and took him to school. It's hard not picking him up now."

Image: Helen Hemphill and her grandson Malachi Hemphill
Helen Hemphill and her grandson Malachi Hemphill in an undated photo. Malachi Hemphill was live on the social media site Instagram handling a gun when it went off on Monday April 10, 2017. He was rushed to Grady Hospital where he died. Courtesy Helen Hemphill

Meanwhile, the boy's family is left wondering why nobody viewing the live video intervened.

"When you see someone on a live video playing with a gun, don't take it for granted if that's your friend. You tell somebody," Stephens said. "Do something about it because this could've been prevented."

Like most kids, Hemphill said her grandson used a number of social media apps, including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. But after Monday's tragic accident, she plans on monitoring her own 12-year-old daughter's social media activity more closely.

Authorities are offering the same advice. During Thursday's news conference, Matson urged parents to oversee their children's Internet activity more vigilantly, adding that kids should also be made aware of the dangers of playing with guns.

“This is a different era," he said. "This information age, where kids have access to the internet [and] social media sites like they never have before. We want to make sure that message is reiterated to parents."