(CHICAGO) — A week after performing at inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C., a 15-year-old Chicago girl was shot dead blocks from her school on the South Side in the latest incident of gun violence in the city.
Hadiya Pendleton, a student at King College Prep School and majorette in the band, performed with her classmates at several inaugural events last week in the nation’s capital.
After school on Tuesday, however, Pendleton was shot and killed in a South Side park. At the time of the shooting, Pendleton was standing with a group of 10 to 12 friends taking cover from the torrential rain that swept over the city, according to police.
A man jumped a fence and ran towards the group and opened fire. As the teenagers scattered, two were felled by the gunfire. Pendleton was shot in the back and Lawrence Sellers was shot. He is listed in serious condition, police said.
The area where the teenagers were seeking escape from the rain is a known gang hangout and police believe the shooter mistook the kids for gang members. Pendleton does not have an arrest record and there is no indication she is part of a gang, the police said Wednesday.
The shooter sped off in a car.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra, to console her.
“Nothing can break your heart more and I did it just to call as a parent so they know they’re not alone,” the mayor said.
The mayor was enraged by Pendleton’s death.
“You look at her. You look at how she talked about her future. She took her final exams. She had dreams and this gangbanger, this punk took that way from Cleopatra, they took it away from Hadiya and in my view they took it away from the city of Chicago,” he said.
The shooting occurred about a mile from President Obama’s home. White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “The president and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton. All of our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Pendleton and the King College Prep Marching Band participated in a national band competition on Saturday, Jan. 19, in Washington as part of the inaugural festivities. The competition was part of the “Presidential Inauguration Heritage Music Festival.” which took place from Jan. 16 to 20 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. They performed at the Kerr Center for Performing Arts and during an inaugural brunch event at Howard University.
On Wednesday a petition was started on the White House website urging President Obama and his family to attend Pendleton’s funeral. The president, the petition said, “should stand up and take advantage of a tragic opportunity to keep the anti-gun violence movement engaged.”
Pendleton’s death comes as Chicago continues to combat its gun violence problem. In 2012 the city’s homicide rate surged over 500 for the first time since 2008. The start of 2013 had seen a decline in homicides from last year’s infamous pace, but a bloody weekend put to rest any talk about improvements. There have now been 42 homicides so far this month in the city, making it the bloodiest January since 2002.
One mother, Shirley Chambers, lost the last of her four children to a shooting early Saturday. Ronnie Chambers’ death came after his brother Carlos was shot and killed in 1995, his sister La Toya in 2000, and his brother Jerome also in 2000.
“Right now I’m totally lost because Ronnie was my only surviving son,” Shirley Chambers told WLS. “He was trying to change….He would do anything for you.”
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