A 15-year-old Chicago honor student who marched as a majorette with her high school band in President Barack Obama’s inaugural events was shot and killed less than a mile from her award winning school, and only a short walk's distance from Obama's Chicago home.
Hadiya Pendleton was with a group of about a dozen other teenagers who sought cover from the rain near the school. They stood under a canopy in a local park at 2:30 p.m. when a gunman hopped over a fence and opened fire, a Chicago police spokesman told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday.
The teens had been released early from school after finishing final exams. Pendleton was with other members of the school's volleyball team, according to the Tribune.
The gunfire caused a panic among the teens and they stampeded out of the park. Pendleton and a 17-year-old boy were both hit and collapsed about one block away.
Pendleton was shot once in the back and later died at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. The wounded boy is still in serious condition at the same hospital. Another 17-year-old boy was grazed in the foot by a bullet. He was treated and released.
According to police, most of the teens with Pendleton were gang members and left the scene. Pendleton herself had no known gang affiliation. On the contrary, she was a college-bound honor student.
“All of it just makes no sense,” her godmother Lakeisha Stewart told the Tribune. “She was following (her parents') rules.”
As stated, she was also a star volleyball player, and majorette at King College Prep, according to CBS 2 in Chicago. The school's marching band went to Washington and performed during the inauguration just last week.
Pendleton had been making plans to travel to Paris with her school, according to the Tribune.
"There were a lot of good opportunities that were coming her way. She was just taking them all,” Stewart told the Tribune. "She was the kid who you had to say, 'Slow down, you can’t do everything.'"
"She was an amazing person—always positive," classmate Bria Carter told the Tribune. "She was one of those people everyone loved. She was the sweetest thing."
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) referred to “little Miss Pendleton" during Wednesday morning's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence in Washington.
“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone,” Durbin said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama's thoughts and prayers were with the Pendleton family and that her death was a "terrible tragedy."
According to Wikipedia, Martin Luther King, Jr. College Preparatory High School (commonly known as King College Prep) is a public four-year selective enrollment magnet high school located in the Kenwood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Of Chicago’s hundreds of schools, only eight are designated as “selective enrollment” schools. That means students must apply for admittance just as though applying for college. Acceptance is based solely on academic achievement and test scores. In 2010, King College Prep was named a "Silver Medal" school by US News and World Report in its annual rankings of America's best high schools.
There were more than 500 murders in Chicago in 2012. Hadiya Pendelton is number 42 so far just this first month of 2013. Today is the last day of the month, and the beginning of Super Bowl weekend. Chicago is bracing for more violence, more shootings, more deaths as January slips into February—"Black History Month."