CHICAGO – A 15-year-old girl who had performed in President Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities is the latest face on the ever-increasing homicide toll in the president’s hometown, killed in a Chicago park as she talked with friends by a man who apparently was not even aiming at her.
Chicago police said Hadiya Pendleton was in a park about a mile from Obama’s home in a South Side neighborhood Tuesday afternoon when a man opened fire on the group. Hadiya was shot in the back as she tried to escape.
The city’s 42nd slaying is part of Chicago’s bloodiest January in more than a decade, following on the heels of 2012, which ended with more than 500 homicides for the first time since 2008. It also comes at a time when Obama, spurred by the Connecticut elementary school massacre in December, is actively pushing for tougher gun laws.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president and the first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the teen’s family.
About three blocks from Hadiya’s school, she and a group of 10 to 12 young people had taken refuge under a canopy at a park to avoid the rain Tuesday afternoon when a man climbed a fence, ran at the group and started shooting a gun. The group scattered, but Hadiya was shot in the back and a teenage boy was shot in the leg.