FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — After 8-year-old Royal’lee Wallace died in a shooting in Federal Way, her family remembered her in a vigil on Wednesday night. They gathered at Roxhill Park in West Seattle – the little girl’s favorite park.
Their family says Federal Way Police wrongfully accused Royal’lee’s father of pulling the trigger.
On Sunday, a bullet somehow entered her room and hit her. Police said the shooting happened in the 27900 block of Pacific Highway South. Royal’lee was on life support at the hospital but did not survive.
“My baby was full of love,” her mom Jon’nae McCants-Folkes said through tears.
“We shouldn’t have to be burying an eight-year-old,” said Charmaine Murphy, her aunt.
Family members said Royal’lee wanted to be a scientist and would run around in a lab coat and glasses.
“Just full of love and joy and so exciting. She was always bringing excitement to the house,” Murphy said.
Federal Way police said in a statement on Monday that “The 35-year-old father of the juvenile had been handling a firearm in the apartment when it discharged. The bullet traveled through three walls and struck the child in another room.”
The family says they don’t understand why police put out that information - because they say it’s completely wrong.
“It wasn’t me at all. Let me clear the air on that. Police already know. I said, ‘Hey man, this wasn’t me, this wasn’t something I could’ve done. I said I have no firearms in my house,’” said Cherith Wallace, Royal’lee’s dad.
Wallace said his daughter died at Harborview Medical Center while he was being held in custody.
“I was asking about my child the whole time, about how she was doing, and they told me we have no update, no update, no update,” Wallace said.
On Tuesday, he was released from jail with no charges filed.
“They accused my brother, locked him up, for something that he did not do,” Murphy said.
Their family is now demanding answers.
“All I ask is for whoever did this -- come up! Quit hiding, turn yourself in,” Murphy said.
“I know in my heart of hearts when it happened, her dad had no parts. So I need whoever did this to turn themselves in,” Mccants-Folkes said.
A Federal Way Police Department spokesperson said Wednesday night that the details released earlier was the information they had at the time, and said what happened is still being investigated.
After this story aired, Federal Way police released an updated statement on Thursday saying Wallace did not initially tell police other people were inside the home when the shooting happened. Wallace says that is not true. Full statement from police below:
Press Release update regarding the shooting death of 8-year-old female.
Working closely with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, probable cause was developed to arrest the father on the afternoon of the shooting based on the initial statement he provided about being alone in his apartment with his child when she was shot. Evidence revealed that a firearm was discharged from inside the apartment unit and the bullet struck the child after passing through three walls.
Subsequently, detectives have discovered additional information that indicates two other individuals were in the apartment with the father when the shooting occurred. It was the father’s initial refusal to share this information with investigators and failure to identify the actual shooter that led to his arrest.
After further interviews with the father and one of the other two subjects allegedly in the apartment when the shooting occurred, the father was released and the investigation shifted to locating the person who is now believed to have fired the fatal shot.
The Federal Way Police Department is committed to ensuring a thorough investigation into this tragic situation that resulted in the loss of life of this 8-year-old girl. Anyone with information regarding this case should contact the Federal Way Police Department at 253-835-2121.
Cox Media Group