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Hadiya Pendleton: 4 years before slaying, girl made anti-gang video

ShootingsHomicideHadiya PendletonBarack ObamaGang ActivityGarry McCarthyNorthwestern University

The sixth-grader can barely keep from smiling, self-conscious in front of the camera as she delivers a very serious message.

"Hi, my name is Hadiya. This commercial is informational for you and your future children," she begins. "So many children out there are in gangs and it's your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great future."

The video then shows shots of a boy slumped in a stairwell, another boy sprawled against a locker, a girl lying on the floor against a wall as a classmate next to Hadiya says, "So many children in the world have died from gang violence. More than 500 children have died from being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Four years after Hadiya Pendleton made that public service video at Carter G. Woodson Elementary School, police are saying the same thing about her.

Hadiya had just finished her final exams at King Prep High School, where she was a sophomore, and was hanging out with friends from the school's volleyball team when she was gunned down in a park in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Avenue. Thursday afternoon, police announced the reward for information leading to an arrest in the shooting had increased to $24,000, up from $11,000 announced Wednesday.

Hadiya and the others had sought shelter from a rainstorm under a canopy at the park around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday when a gunman jumped a fence, ran toward them and opened fire, police said.

As the teens scattered, Hadiya and two teenage boys were shot. Hadiya was hit in the back and pronounced dead at Comer Children's Hospital less than an hour after the shooting. The wounds suffered by the boys were not life-threatening.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy stressed that neither Hadiya nor anyone in the group she was with were involved with gangs. But it appears the gunman mistook the students for members of a rival gang, he said. The shooter was last seen fleeing in a white Nissan.

“These were good kids by everything that I learned," McCarthy said at a Wednesday news conference, where a reward of $11,000 was announced. "Wrong place at the wrong time.”

Friday morning, that reward has been increased to $30,000, according to a statement from police News Affairs.

Pastor Courtney Maxwell, the family’s pastor, has offered $6,000, increasing the reward to $30,000, according to the statement, which said Maxwell has called a press conference at Harsh Park at 11:45 a.m. 

Hadiya was shot a little more than a week after performing with the King College Prep band in Washington during President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities. The shooting occurred in a park about a mile north of Obama's Kenwood home.

The shooting has drawn the attention of both the White House, which is pushing for national gun control, and City Hall as Chicago closes on a violent January. Hadiya was the 42nd homicide victim this year in the city, where killings last year climbed above 500.

Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, pleaded for someone to step forward and bring the 15-year-old's killer to justice.

"She was destined for great things," he said.

Hadiya was a majorette with the band at King, one of the city's elite selective-enrollment schools. She dreamed of going to Northwestern University and talked about becoming a pharmacist or a journalist, maybe a lawyer.

Police have reported no arrests.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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ShootingsHomicideHadiya PendletonBarack ObamaGang ActivityGarry McCarthyNorthwestern University
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