'Walking angel': Girl who performed at Obama's inauguration shot dead in Chicago
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a student at King College Prep, was killed Tuesday at a Chicago park.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News
15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama's inauguration last
week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends in
Hadiya Pendleton -- described by a
relative as a “walking angel” -- was standing under a canopy in Vivian
Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire at the
group and fled in a white car, police said.
Pendleton was shot in
the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer
Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.
A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident.
Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the
“As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy . . .
He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” the victim’s godfather,
Damon Stewart, 36, who is a police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”
A sophomore at selective King College Prep High School,
Pendleton had traveled to Washington to perform with the school marching
band at inaugural events.
“It was the highlight of her young
15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a
Senate hearing on gun violence.
“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”
Shatira Wilks said the upcoming inauguration trip was the talk of a
family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even
more excited about something else: plans to spend the summer studying in
“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said.
“Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any
Wilks said the teen doted on her 10-year-old brother, Junior, who is devastated.
“At Christmas this year, she was designated the elf and she handed out all the gifts,” she recalled.
“She loved rock music. She was always listening and playing to music,” Wilks said,. “What you would usually catching her doing is texting on her phone, like all the teenagers.”
Pendleton last tweeted just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday. “I’m tired,” she wrote.
Many of her classmates changed their Twitter handles to honor her and decried the violence that had claimed an innocent life.
are more than loved and missed,” one wrote. “Your laugh smile and silly
happy personality has made my day more times than I can remember.
Nobody deserves this, especially not you.”
Friends of the young majorette described her as a bubbly, well-liked student.
was always smiling and laughing,” said Tyler Genovesi, 14. “She was
just a really nice person. … There’s a lot of people crying in school
today. It’s very sad. The band is playing for her right now.”
The shooting happened in an upscale neighborhood where residents were shocked.
"I was torn apart," said Robin Hollis, who lives across the street from the park. "I cried when I heard about it."
murder was one of three shooting deaths in the city on Tuesday. More
than 40 people have been shot dead in Chicago since the beginning of the
year. There were 506 homicides in the city last year, a 16 percent
increase even as other large cities, like New York, saw murders drop.
“We are awash in guns,” Durbin said, noting that six times as many
guns as confiscated in Chicago as in New York each year. We have guns
everywhere and some believe the solution to this is more guns. I