Family Mourns 7-Year-Old Killed When Shots Were Fired at 4th of July Party

Natalia Wallace's family
CBS News

The family of a 7-year-old girl in Chicago is still in shock after a Fourth of July party turned deadly over the weekend. According to multiple reports, Natalia Wallace was outside her grandmother's house when shots were fired by a group of unidentified men. One of those bullets struck the child, while others grazed 32-year-old man standing nearby. But while the man was quickly treated for minor injuries, the little girl's injuries were ultimately fatal.

  • It happened just after 7 p.m. on Saturday, in the South Austin neighborhood of the city.

    Chicago Chief of Police Fred Waller told reporters that Natalia and several other children had been happily playing in her grandmother's yard just moments before the chaos. But by the time shots rang out, the 7-year-old had moved to the sidewalk, right as a light-colored vehicle pulled up and four unidentified men stepped out with guns.

    Within seconds of firing, they hopped back inside the vehicle and sped off.

    "When families should be celebrating, having a good time, spending time together, a 7-year-old girl was taken from us," Waller said on Saturday. "A 7-year-old girl who was here visiting her grandmother, visiting her family, and now she's gone."

  • Advertisement
  • According to Chicago PD, Natalia was shot in the forehead during the mayhem, and was transported to Stroger Hospital of Cook County.

    It's unclear when exactly she succumbed to her injuries, but the little girl was pronounced dead at the hospital, after doctors determined there was nothing that could be done to save her.

    Meanwhile, the 32-year-old man had a gunshot wound to the ankle and a bullet graze to the leg. He was well enough to transport himself to Mount Sinai Hospital and is listed in fair condition.

  • The shocking story quickly swept through Chicago, leaving many stunned.

    In a moving Twitter thread, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed sympathy for the little girl's family, as well as anger and frustration over the continuing threat of gun violence in America.

    "Tonight, a 7-year-old girl in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun," Lightfoot tweeted on July 4. "As families gather to commemorate the founding of our nation, we must ask ourselves: is this who we are as a city or as a country? We cannot grow numb to this. We are making progress in slowing shootings, but we have to do better, every single one of us. We must stop the violence before it starts by investing in our children, our neighborhoods and our schools."

  • One day after Natalia's death, her family gathered outside her grandmother's home and remembered the little girl who was so full of life.

    Speaking with CBS Chicago, her family described her as sweet, shy, and loving.

    "I saw my baby laying here, she was only 7 years old," recalled Natalia's great-great aunt, Shelley Fulton. "She smiled, she always told me, 'I love you.' I'd buy anything she asked me to buy, because I loved that little girl. I'll never be the same again."

    "I mean, who wants to bury their child? It should be the other way around," said one man, who did not give his name.

  • Sadly, this wasn't the only case of gun violence to claim a child's life in recent weeks.

    According to The New York Times, nine children under the age of 18 have been shot dead in Chicago since June 20.

    In one heartbreaking case, a 20-month-old boy was killed right in his car seat when a gunman in another car sprayed his mother's Hyundai with bullets. In another, a 3-year-old boy was shot and killed on Father's Day weekend -- also while riding in the back seat of his parent's car -- as he drove home from getting a haircut.

    Even more alarming? At least 77 were reportedly shot over Fourth of July weekend in Chicago alone, and 13 have died as a result.

  • But Chicago isn't the only city that has seen an increase in gun violence lately.

    On Sunday, NBC News reported that New York City shootings have doubled for the third straight week. And in just nine hours following the Fourth of July, gunfire around the city resulted in three deaths and dozens of injuries.

    "This is something that we have a lot of work to do to address," said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. "It's directly related to all the dislocation that's happened over these last four months with the coronavirus."

  • For now, the Chicago PD is continuing to investigate Natalia's death, as well as incidents surrounding the other recent shootings.

    Police are looking for any leads on who the suspects may be. It's also unclear whether their target had been the 32-year-old man, or someone else at the party.

    If you, or anyone you know, has information that could help investigators, you're encouraged to submit it anonymously to the Chicago Police Department.