Hadiya Pendleton, 15-Year-Old Honor Student who Performed at Obama Inauguration, Shot Dead in Chicago
CBS Chicago reports that Hadiya Pendleton, an honor student at King College Prep High School, was shot in the back while sheltering under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Pendleton was with a group of around 10-12 other teens when someone hopped a fence, ran up to the group and opened fire. According to a witness, the terrified teens scattered in all directions following the shooting. Pendleton and a 15-year-old boy, who was shot in the leg, made it about a block before they collapsed just blocks from the high school where she was a volleyball player and a majorette.
The girl was rushed to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, where she died about an hour later.
Police told CBS Chicago that Pendleton had no gang affiliation and likely was not the shooter’s intended target. Several of the other teens with her under the canopy were believed to be gang members.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Pendleton had attended last week’s ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama in Washington, DC, where she performed at inaugural events with the King College Prep band and drill team. She also had dreams of going to Paris this summer.
“She went to the inauguration. She was working on some sort of exchange program, where she was going to go to school in Paris,” Chicago Police Officer Damon Stewart, who is also the girl’s godfather, told the Sun-Times. “She was a great student.”
“I changed her diapers. I played with her growing up,” the 36-year-old Stewart added. “My heart is broken.”
Pendleton’s cousin, Shatira Wilks, told the Sun-Times that the slain girl’s mother was trying to move the family to a safer place.
“Believe it or not, her mom was just looking to move to Naperville,” Wilks told the paper. “Her mom wanted to take her kids to an even better community and make sure her education is number one. Her daughter has never even given her mother a problem, this girl was literally a walking angel.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, this month’s homicide count— which now stands at 42– makes it the deadliest January since 2002. Chicago had 506 homicides in 2012, compared with 417 in New York City — which has three times the Windy City’s population.
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