CHICAGO (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama met privately with the family of a 15-year-old girl being laid to rest Saturday a week and a half after her fatal shooting brought national attention to Chicago’s staggering gun violence.
Obama was among the dignitaries attending the service for Hadiya Pendleton at a South Side church that was filled to capacity with hundreds of mourners. Hadiya, a band majorette, was shot and killed just a few days after performing for events surrounding President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Police say she was an innocent victim in a gang-related shooting.
The first lady, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side, met in an upstairs room at the church with Hadiya’s immediate family. Other majorettes, wearing their black-and-gold team jackets, also were in the room, as was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Hadiya was shot and killed while she talked with friends after school at a park not far from the Obamas’ home in the Kenwood neighborhood. Police have said the Jan. 29 shooting appears to be a case of mistaken identity involving gang members who believed the park was their territory.
Her death brought new attention to Chicago’s homicide rate and the national debate over gun violence. Her slaying came in a January that was the city’s deadliest in a decade. In 2012, Chicago recorded 506 homicides.