Chicago man charged with first-degree murder in shooting of 7-year-old girl

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CHICAGO (WGN) — Police have arrested a Chicago man in connection with the killing of a 7-year-old girl who was shot at a Fourth of July party Saturday night.

Reginald Merrill, 33, has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery after Natalie Wallace was shot in the head at around 9:15 p.m.

Police said they believe three men got out of a vehicle Merrill was driving and opened fire. The shooting was reportedly a gang retaliation, and Natalie was struck while playing in her grandmother’s yard.

Chicago police 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,” said CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.

Police say they 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.

Natalie’s father, Nathan Wallace, said he had dropped his daughter off at her grandmother’s house for a Fourth of July party minutes before she was shot.

“I left out the block 10 minutes then get a call one of, ‘Your baby is shot,’” he said. “My heart’s broken. It hurts me my youngest daughter is no longer here.”

Michelle Rogers, Natalie’s mother, said Monday she 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.”

Nathan Wallace agreed, saying, “I’m grateful for the effort the police moving quickly to get at least one of the offenders. We want you, we’re going to get you. It’s just a matter of time before you get got, too.”

On Sunday, Natalie’s 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 grandbaby 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.”

A GoFundMe has been created to help Natalie’s family pay for her funeral expenses.

Violence continued this past weekend in Chicago with at least 87 shot and 17 killed. Vernado Jones Jr., 14, 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 Lori 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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