CHICAGO – Police have arrested a man in connection to the murder of 7-year-old Natalie Wallace, who was shot at a Fourth of July party Saturday night.
Reginald Merrill, 33, of Chicago, has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery after Wallace was shot in the head in the 100 block of North Latrobe Saturday at around 9:15 p.m.
Police believe three men got out of a vehicle Merrill was driving and opened fire. The shooting was reportedly gang retaliation and Wallace was caught in the fire while playing in her grandmother’s yard.
Chicago police utilized technology after they were given videos of the white vehicle allegedly used in the shooting.
“Using technology, they tracked this vehicle all over the district and they eventually got a license plate on this vehicle,” CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said.
Merrill was taken into custody in the 1000 block of North Pine Avenue.
Police believe Merrill was the driver and they are still looking for three more suspects accused of pulling the trigger.
Merill is also believed to be involved in the shooting of a 32-year-old man at the scene. That man was transported to the hospital in fair condition.
Wallace was shot while playing with relatives at her grandmother’s Fourth of July party.
WGN spoke with the parents of Wallace on Monday night. Mother Michelle Rogers is glad one suspect is off the streets, but wants more justice to be served.
“I’m feeling happy and sad at the same time, because my daughter is gone,” said Rogers. “I hope they get caught and locked up and also get the penalty.”
Natalie’s father, Nathan Wallace, agrees.
“I’m grateful for the effort the police moving quickly to get at least one of the offenders,” Wallace said. “We want you, we’re going to get you. It’s just a matter of time before you get got too.”
On Sunday, family held a news conference in hopes of getting the suspects to turn themselves in.
“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 Sunday. “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.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help Natalie’s family pay for her funeral expenses.
Violence continued this past weekend with at least 87 shot and 17 killed. 14-year-old Vernado Jones Jr. was shot and killed in Englewood after a gunman opened fire into a large crowd. Seven others were shot, including two other children.
“I sincerely pray on behalf of a grieving city, that you are able to recognize the consequences of what you’ve done,” Mayor Lightfoot said Monday morning. “The souls you have ruptured.”
Nine children have been killed over the last three weekends in Chicago due to gun violence. Many community groups have put up substantial reward money to try to find their killers.
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