Shaniqua Stephens had just watched her 13-year-old son, Malachi Hemphill, take out the trash Monday evening. About 10 minutes later, Malachi was found in his room, blood all around him, suffering from a gunshot wound.
“I heard a big boom. I couldn’t tell if it was a gunshot or what,” Stephens said. “I just knew that it was something that was wrong.”
Stephens said that after hearing the noise, she and her daughter ran upstairs.
“We kicked in the door. We found him just laying there in a pool of blood,” Stephens told news station WXIA. “My daughter screamed and said, ‘Mom, turn his phone off!’ As I proceeded to look at his phone, he was on Instagram Live.”
Malachi had apparently been on his social media account handling the gun when it went off. He was rushed to Grady Hospital, where he later died.
“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.”
Stephens said she believes that the incident was an accident and not an intentional suicide.
Several of the teen’s friends who were apparently watching the live feed when the shot went off rushed to the family’s home.
“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.”
Stephens said someone had asked her son why he didn’t have a clip in the gun and told him to put it in. “As he put the clip in the gun, that is when the gun went off,” the grieving mother added.
It is still not clear to the family how Malachi got his hands on the dangerous weapon. Stephens said that her son got the gun from a friend who had gotten it from someone else. Investigators are looking into finding out who originally had the gun and passed it to the friend, the news station notes.
All of this happened despite the mother’s best efforts to teach her children right from wrong and track their activities on social media, according to the report.
Stephens told the news station that she and her husband, Ernest, monitored the teens’ profiles often and tried their best to know where their children were and who they were friends with. But, as Stephens told the news station, sometimes the wrong influence from outside the home can still destroy a family.
“[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,” Stephens said. “Monitor their phones, just monitor your children. More now than anything.”
Stephens said she is hoping that Malachi’s story can help parents and encourage them to keep a close eye on their children.
“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,” Malichi’s stepfather, Ernest Stephens, said.
Read more at WXIA.