CHICAGO (CBS) — A suspect was charged late Monday afternoon in the shooting that killed 7-year-old Natalia Wallace on the evening of July 4th in the South Austin neighborhood.
Reginald Merrill, 33, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of felony aggravated battery involving the discharge of a firearm.
Police said he was arrested at 9:15 p.m. Saturday in the 1000 block of North Pine Avenue. He was the only one traveling in a white car that matched the description of the vehicle from which the shots that killed Natalia were fired.
Natalia was gunned down at 7:02 p.m. Saturday while playing in her grandmother’s front yard in the South Austin neighborhood.
The 7-year-old who loved math and art was shot in the head on the 100 block of North Latrobe Avenue.
Police said Natalia was on the sidewalk when the white vehicle pulled up and an unknown number of people exited. Those people then took out guns and fired shots her direction, police said.
A Chicago Police officer gave Natalia CPR, but she did not survive.
Police credited video and other technology with helping them track the car. Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said police are still looking for others who were involved in the shooting.
At the time she was killed, Natalia, who had had just finished the first grade at Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts Center, was visiting her grandmother for a 4th of July party.
On Sunday, CBS 2’s Marissa Parra spoke with Natalia’s family, who were with her in her final moments.
“Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting,” said Natalia’s father, Nathan Wallace.
Shelley Fulton, who is Natalia’s great-great aunt and was like a third parent to her, rubbed her back in her final moments.
“She said, ‘Your baby’s shot!’ and I jumped the flight of stairs to come downstairs, and I found my baby laying here, and I’ll never be the same,” Fulton said. “It’s got to stop, this killing. These are innocent kids. She was only 7 years old.”
“She’d smile and always tell me, ‘I love you,’” Fulton said.
A 32-year-old man was also wounded in the shooting, police said. He transported himself to Mount Sinai Hospital in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the ankle and a graze wound to the leg.
Merrill was also charged in that shooting.