FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — New developments in the investigation of the shooting death of an eight-year-old girl in Federal Way: police now say they’re looking for a suspect who they believe fired the shot.
At first, police arrested the father and said he discharged a weapon in the home. But now police indicate they believe someone else is the suspect.
KIRO7 interviewed the family Wednesday after the dad – Cherith Wallace – was released from jail with no charges filed. The family said Wallace was wrongfully arrested and detained, which led to his daughter dying while he was in custody.
Federal Way police released an update Thursday, saying in a statement, “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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
But Wallace says he told police about other people inside the home right from the beginning.
“I just kept telling them over and over and over - they didn’t listen to me, they didn’t care,” he said.
“The police are not telling the truth,” Wallace said. “I feel like they’re covering up their mistake,” he said.
KIRO7′s Deedee Sun asked Wallace several times what he told police.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Sun asked. “I just know – I just know that,” Wallace started answering, but each time he was overcome with emotion.
“It’s hard to repeat it. It causes more trauma and more grief to that person,” said Charmaine Murphy, Wallace’s sister.
Royal’lee died at Harborview Medical Center while Wallace was being held at the King County jail.
“I couldn’t even be with my child while she was still warm. I had to come out and kiss her when she’s cold,” Wallace said, choking up.
Police say the bullet went through three walls and hit the little girl. They are now looking for the person believed to have fired the fatal shot.
The family has shared a GoFundMe created by her grandmother to help with her funeral expenses. “We are not prepared financially nor mentally to bury my Rolly,” wrote ShamMerrelle Mccants on the page.
Investigators are asking anyone with information regarding the case to call 253-835-2121.
Federal Way police do not wear body cameras. KIRO7 has filed public disclosure requests to obtain reports and any video evidence of the incident.