A thirteen-year-old teen named Malachi Hemphill was live on the social media site Instagram handling the gun when it went off. He was rushed to Grady Hospital where he died.
On Monday evening, Shaniqua Stephens had just watched her 13-year-old son take out the trash when she suddenly heard a noise.
“I heard a big boom. I couldn’t tell if it was a gunshot or what.”
“I just knew that it was something that was wrong,” she said.
She and her daughter quickly ran upstairs and found him. “We kicked in the door. We found him just lying there in a pool of blood,” Shaniqua recounted. “My daughter screamed and said, ‘Mom turn his phone off!’ As I proceeded to look at his phone he was on Instagram Live.”
“This is just a pain that will never go away,” she 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.”
Shaniqua clarified that it was not an intentional suicide but an accident.
When the shooting happened, several of his friends were watching. “They rushed to her house afterward”, Shaniqua said.
“There were 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.”
She has been told that someone asked why he didn’t have a clip in the gun and told him to put a clip in the gun. “As he put the clip in the gun, that is when the gun went off,” she said.
Forest Park Police said they responded at about 10:40 p.m.
Shaniqua is not completely sure how Malachi got the gun. She was told that he got the gun from a friend who got it from someone else. According to the detectives, criminal charges are a possibility, depending on where their investigation leads. They are consulting with the Clayton County D.A.’s office about it.
“It was hard to keep track of his activities on social media even though she and her husband Ernest monitored his profiles often”, Shaniqua said. Both of them said that they were trying their best to know where their kids’ whereabouts and who they were friends with. They worked to be role models for their children, but said the wrong influence outside the home can still lead to tragedy even with a parent’s eye.
Grief counselors were brought in by the officials of Babb Middle School, where Malachi was a 7th-grade student, in order to assist students. Grief counseling is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help people cope with grief and mourning following the death of loved ones, or with major life changes that trigger feelings of grief (e.g., divorce, or job loss).
“(The) Detective asked me yesterday, ‘What was Malachi’s Instagram name?’ I couldn’t tell him what Malachi’s Instagram name was because he would make up so many different pages,” Shaniqua said. “Monitor their phones, just monitor your children. More now than anything.”
She said she hopes parents get the message to keep a vigilant eye on what children are doing and who they are doing it with. Malichi’s stepfather Ernest Stephens said, “it can happen to the best parents…it can happen to the best people. The best ones that loved their kids, you know? I just always let them know about situations and decisions”.
In addition, Forest Park Police released a message to the public:
This is a horrific event for parents, children and the police to deal with. We are asking parents to speak with their children about:
- The dangers of playing with guns, they are not toys.
- Telling a parent or other adult authority figure when they see or believe one of their friends has a gun they should not have.
- Telling or discouraging friends from playing with guns.
- Parents should be aware of their children’s social media activities