Gun violence in Chicago has claimed another teenager who only last week marched with her school band in Washington at President Obama’s inauguration, continuing an escalating trend of deadly shootings on the city’s South Side.
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, an honor student at Chicago’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School and a majorette in the marching band, was killed midday Tuesday while hanging out with friends after exams in a nearby park, the Chicago Tribune reported. As she was standing under a shelter to get out of the rain, an unidentified male jumped a fence and ran toward her group, firing at them. Pendleton was struck in the back, while another boy was hit in the leg. The shooter then jumped into a car and sped off.
The two teens were taken to a nearby hospital where Pendleton was pronounced dead. The injured boy was in serious condition. Police say the girl was likely an unintended target of the shooting and was not involved with gangs, but some of the teens in her group may have had gang affiliations.
Some of the youths scattered after the shooting, but others stayed behind. Those that did are reportedly not cooperating with police, leaving officials with no description of the attacker or the car he left in. No arrests have been made so far.
King College Prep is one of Chicago’s top magnet schools and its band has performed at several inaugural events. It is located in the city’s Kenwood neighborhood, which normally does not see much violent crime, according to police data. It is about a mile from President Obama’s home in Hyde Park.
Pendleton’s godfather, Chicago police officer Damon Stewart said that the teen was making big plans for her future at the time of her death. “She was working on some sort of exchange program, where she was going to go to school in Paris,” Stewart said. “She was a great student.”
The killing was shocking enough to warrant a mention at Wednesday’s Congressional hearings on gun violence. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin brought Pendleton’s murder to the attention of a stunned audience during testimony. “Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone,” Durbin said. “We have guns everywhere and some believe the solution to this is more guns. I disagree.”
So far in 2013, Chicago has seen 42 homicides. In 2012, 506 people were killed in the city. Only 25% of those murders were solved.