CHICAGO – For the third consecutive weekend, a child under ten years old was shot and killed in Chicago Saturday night.
As adults barbecued and children played at their family’s Fourth of July gathering in Austin Saturday night, Chicago police say three males exited a white vehicle before shooting towards the crowd.
As she played outside, 7-year-old Natalie Wallace was shot in the forehead. After first responders arrived on the scene, she was transported to Stroger Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
“She left out the house, two minutes, and then I came down here, my grand baby laying on the ground, down there,” grandmother Linda Rogers said. “I couldn’t do nothing. My baby was laying on the ground. It didn’t take a minute.”
Nathan Wallace said he had dropped his daughter off at her grandmother’s house minutes before she was shot.
“I left out the block 10 minutes then get a call one of, ‘your baby is shot,’” Nathan Wallace said. “My heart’s broken. It hurts me my youngest daughter is no longer here.”
Police said Sunday a “person of interest” in the case is in custody and being questioned.
The heartbroken family of 7-year-old Natalie Wallace said they will never be the same after her outrageous killing, and made an emotional plea for justice and an end to gun violence in the city Sunday.
Leading into the holiday weekend, Chicago police announced the deployment of an additional 1,200 officers a day to try to combat gun violence.
But Natalie’s family members said officers should have been on corners in areas where violence happens, and said they didn’t notice a bigger police presence.
CPD Chief of Operations Fred Waller appeared exasperated and infuriated speaking after the attack, but said it was caught on camera.
“Austin, we got to be tired of this, because damn it I’m tired of it,” Waller said. “We got some video. What we know is three men got out of a white vehicle and fired in the direction of that family.”
Watch Below: The father and family members of Natalie Wallace speak after the 7-year-old was shot and killed in Austin Saturday (viewer discretion: contains adult language)
A second victim, a 32-year-old man, arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital with a gunshot wound to the ankle. He is listed in fair condition. More than 20 rounds were fired at the scene, Waller said.
The typically stoic crisis responder Andrew Holmes was also beside himself Sunday, noting this is the third consecutive week that a child under 10 years old has been shot and killed in Chicago.
“This is the third week we have lost a baby, but somebody on the streets in this city of Chicago know who discharged the weapon and took the child’s life,” Holmes said.
Natalie had just finished first grade at Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts Center.
At school, she told her classmates “I love you” at the end of each school day, family members said. She also loved art, math, the outdoors, and her family.
Shortly after returning from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office where he identified Natalie’s body, Nathan Wallace was met with messages in chalk and a memorial with teddy bears near where his daughter was playing with her cousins less than 24 hours earlier.
“I’ll never get the chance to hug her, and let her know that I love her,” Wallace said. “I’m hurt, I’m angry, sad, disappointed. It’s something that no parent wants to do, who wants to bury their child, it should be the other way around.”
“She smiled, she always tell me, ‘I love you.’ I buy her anything she asked me to buy. I loved that little girl. I’ll never be the same again,” Wallace said.
Natalie’s family is calling for the killers to turn themselves in, saying they won’t rest until they get justice for her. They also said they would like to see more officers patrolling their neighborhood, not fewer.
On Sunday, a group of men marched down street and past the West Side home where Natalie was shot, calling for an end to the violence.
If you have any information in the case, you can leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.
Editor’s note: Chicago fire initially told us the girl was 3 years old. They were incorrect and the girl is 7.