Man charged with murder in fatal Fourth of July shooting of 7-year-old girl in Austin

Reginald Lamar Merrill was driving a white vehicle that matched the description of the car involved in the shooting, police said. Detectives are still looking for three other suspects.

SHARE Man charged with murder in fatal Fourth of July shooting of 7-year-old girl in Austin
Chicago police officers in the 100 block of North Latrobe Avenue in Austin, where 7-year-old Natalia Wallace was shot to death Saturday night.

Chicago police officers in the 100 block of North Latrobe Avenue in Austin, where 7-year-old Natalia Wallace was shot to death July 4, 2020.

Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

First-degree murder charges were filed against a suspect in connection with the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl in Austin on Fourth of July.

Reginald Lamar Merrill, 33, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of Natalia Wallace,Chicago police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference Monday.

Natalia was struck by a stray bullet while she was playing outside at a family Fourth of July party about 7 p.m. in the 100 block of North Latrobe Avenue, Chicago police said. Three men got out of a white car and shot more than 20 rounds in the direction of the people holding the party.

“It’s just unbelievable that another child was killed,” Deenihan said. “Officers arrived on the scene, tried every life-saving technique they could to save this child and unfortunately she was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

The shooting also wounded a 32-year-old man, police said.

Detectives identified the vehicle through video, tracked it through the district, obtained a license plate and arrested Merrill, who was driving the car, around 9:15 p.m. in the 1000 block of North Pine Avenue, police said.Investigators believe the shooting may have been in retaliation for an earlier homicide.

Detectives are still looking for three other suspects in the incident, Deenihan said.

“Take some ownership in the decisions you made,” Deenihan said. “Come on in, turn yourselves in and admit that you killed a 7-year-old child.”

Merrill is scheduled to appear in bond court Tuesday.

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