On 10 April 2017, a Georgia teenager using Instagram Live accidentally shot and killed himself while handling a gun.
Malachi Hemphill, 13, was broadcasting to friends using Instagram Live when he accidentally fired the weapon. According to USA Today, Hemphill was encouraged by a friend to insert a clip shortly before the gun went off. His mother said that she heard the shot and discovered Malachi in a pool of blood:
On Monday, after he took out the trash, Malachi Hemphill appeared on Instagram Live handling a gun. His mother Shaniqua Stephens later learned someone had asked why he didn’t have a clip in the gun and told him to put one in.
“As he put the clip in the gun,” she said, “that is when the gun went off. … 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.”
Stephens said that shortly after the shooting, dozens of his friends came to their home:
Several of his friends were watching when the shooting happened. Stephens said they rushed to her house afterward.
“There was about 40 to 50 kids outside,” she said. “I guess these were the kids that were watching on live that live in the area. I guess when it happened they just ran over here.”
Police were not immediately able to determine how Malachi came into possession of the weapon. WCGL-TV in Atlanta spoke to the boy’s relatives, who believed he may have received the weapon in a trade for his iPhone:
Family members say he traded his iPhone for the gun about four days before shooting himself. They believe his death didn’t have to happen if someone had spoken up.
Heart-stopping screenshots show Malachi Stephens’ last social media post, which showed the danger he had right by his side … His family explains he got the gun from another teenager four days before the shooting.
As detectives investigated how he acquired the gun, Stephens implored teenagers to report any dangerous activity they observe on social media to a parent:
“If you see your friend with a gun, tell a parent,” she said. “Because this is a situation that didn’t have to go this far.”
If only one person had told her Monday night that Malachi was live on social media with a gun, he might still be alive.
Malachi Hemphill was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital near Atlanta, where he died. A vigil was held at a nearby park on 12 April 2017 to pay tribute to the teen.