At Least 5 Children Killed by Gun Violence Over 4th of July Weekend
The shootings occurred in cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago
At least five children ages 11 or younger across the country died in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend, including a "very quiet and sweet little girl" fatally shot while visiting her grandmother in Chicago.
That victim, identified by family members as 7-year-old Natalia Wallace, "joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote in a tweet.
Wallace was among a group of kids playing July Fourth in a yard in the city's Austin neighborhood when three people exiting a vehicle opened fire on a group outside of a house, striking Wallace in the head, reports Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM. She died at the hospital.
“Natalia was a very quiet and sweet little girl," said a statement released by Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts, where she'd recently finished first grade, and attributed to her first-grade teacher, reports the Chicago Tribune. "She completed every assignment during class, got along with all of her peers, and colored the most precious pictures ever given to me."
"Natalia never hesitated to ask for clarity when needed," said the teacher's statement. "Sometimes, her quiet spirit gave her the strength to lead the reading lessons within her group, and she soared when it came to doing math. During e-learning, Natalia was always present and participating. At the end of each class session, she would type in the chat box, ‘I Love You.'”
Natalia’s father, Nathan Wallace, told WBBM: "Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting."
In Atlanta, the scene of demonstrations protesting the earlier police shooting of Rayshard Brooks saw violence again on the Fourth of July, as at least two people fired at a car carrying 8-year-old Secoriea Turner and her mother as it tried to maneuver past illegally posted barricades, reports the Associated Press. The girl was killed.
The incident happened near the burned-out Wendy's restaurant where Brooks was confronted and killed, and which protesters have claimed as a staging ground to demonstrate against alleged police brutality. Police said the car carrying the girl and her mother was trying to enter a nearby parking lot, but encountered an armed group blocking the entrance.
“At some point, someone in that group opened fire on the vehicle, striking it multiple times and striking the child who was inside,” police said in a news release.
"You shot and killed a baby,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference Sunday in which she called for justice. “And there wasn’t just one shooter, there were at least two shooters.”
In a video posted to YouTube, a representative for the protestors who've taken control of the site said they had no involvement in Saturday's fatal shooting.
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In Hoover, Alabama, 8-year-old Royta De'Marco Giles Jr., a "smart child, who was a jewel, with big dreams of someday entering the music industry," according to his school superintendent, was killed by a bullet shot Friday during a gun battle among several men near the food court of the Riverchase Galleria mall, police said in a news release.
Giles and three additional victims, each of whom were treated and released, all "were innocent by-standers caught in the crossfire," police said. None of the men who engaged in the shooting were injured.
Giles had recently completed second grade at Jonesboro Elementary School, Bessemer City Schools superintendent Autumm Jeter said in a statement to CNN. "Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Giles," he said. "We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough."
In Washington, D.C., 11-year-old Davon McNeal, was outdoors on a visit with family in Southeast Washington when shots erupted among a group of men about 9:20 p.m. Saturday, police said.
The boy was fatally struck while racing from a car into his aunt's house to grab a phone charger, said his grandfather, John Ayala, a longtime activist against gun violence who founded the D.C. chapter of the Guardian Angels crime watch patrol.
"Being out here and fighting this for all these years, I never thought it would hit home," Ayala told Washington, D.C.-area ABC affiliate WJLA. "They were going to do a community cookout for the community and he was with his mom and when he gets out to get the charger, that's when he was shot and killed."
"His mom was just crying, 'My baby! They took my baby!,'" he said.
Davon played youth football and was a student at Kramer Middle School, which sent out a tweet saying, "We are saddened and heartbroken over the passing of our young king Davon McNeal. Mighty Hornet, We will miss You!!"
And in San Francisco, police dispatched to a call of a shooting around 10:45 p.m. Saturday found a 6-year-old boy suffering from a gunshot wound and immediately took him to the hospital, where he died from his injuries, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The boy was identified by family as Jace Young. His uncle, Nate Ford, described Jace to the Chronicle as a smart, empathic boy who said he wouldn't eat meat "because it will kill animals."
A man also was injured in the shooting, but his age and identities of the two were not immediately available.