Skip to main content

Teen who performed at Obama inaugural events shot dead in Chicago

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Ted Rowlands, CNN
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Chicago mayor: "We have a responsibility to see a stop to this"
  • Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot dead in Chicago on Tuesday
  • Last week she performed in events surrounding President Obama's inauguration
  • "Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she's gone," Sen. Dick Durbin says

Chicago (CNN) -- A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama's inauguration was shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide.

The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday.

"She was an honor student and a majorette," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Performing at inaugural events last week "was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life," he said.

Speaking at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Durbin mentioned Pendleton's death as he argued that more must be done to stop gun crimes.

Giffords: 'Too many children dying'

"Yesterday, in a rainstorm after school, she raced to a shelter. A gunman came in and shot her dead," he said. "Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she's gone."

The park shelter where she was shot is just a mile from Obama's home in Chicago.

White House spokesman Jay Carney described her death as a "terrible tragedy."

"The president has more than once, when he talks about gun violence in America, referred not just to the horror of Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Oak Creek but to shootings on the corner in Chicago or other parts of the country," Carney told reporters. "And this is just another example of the problem we need to deal with."

Watch: Chicago's 500 homicides in 2012

2013 has gotten off to a deadly start in Chicago -- Pendleton was the year's 42nd murder victim. No arrests have been made in the case, police said Wednesday.

In 2012, 506 people were slain in the city.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described Pendleton Wednesday as "what's best in our city, a child going to school who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural."

"We have a responsibility to see a stop to this," he said. "And all of us are responsible."

Pendleton was shot just blocks away from her high school on the south side of Chicago, CNN affiliate WGN reported.

LaPierre, the NRA's heavyweight

Police told CNN affiliates that the teenager had no gang affiliation and likely was not the intended target.

"There has to be an end to it. It's just too much. The children cannot go to school. They're in fear," Bonita O'Bannion, who lives in the area where the shooting occurred, told CNN affiliate WBBM.

Carney said the president and first lady's thoughts and prayers are with Pendleton's family.

"And as the president said, we will never be able to eradicate every act of evil in this country," Carney said, "but if we can save even one child's life, we have an obligation to try when it comes to the scourge of gun violence."

How the violent mentally ill can buy guns

CNN's Ted Rowlands reported from Chicago. CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet wrote the story in Atlanta. CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report from Washington.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords co-authors a piece discussing the lethal mix of domestic violence and guns.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Gun rights and gun control advocates largely agree there should be restrictions on mentally ill people obtaining firearms.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law that has critics howling and proponents applauding.
June 13, 2013 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
Six months after a gunman burst into an elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Next time there's a mass shooting, don't jump to blame the NRA and lax gun laws. Look first at the shooter and the mental health services he did or didn't get.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it. Makes sense for workers at a plant, ironic considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Much attention has been paid to the defeat in Congress of proposals to ban assault weapons and expand background checks for firearm purchases.
June 29, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives an in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
The Supreme Court continued its recent hands-off approach on gun control, refusing to accept a challenge to New Jersey's restrictions on carrying weapons in public.
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT)
As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, families write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
Hear from both sides of the gun debate as opinions clash.
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
It was a bit awkward the first time Kate Daggett asked the question.
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1341 GMT (2141 HKT)
Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
April 4, 2013 -- Updated 1935 GMT (0335 HKT)
Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
Who should get them? Join the gun control debate and share your perspective on CNN iReport.
April 2, 2013 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Before having children, she was a firm believer that guns were dangerous. Now this mother of three has a different perspective.
March 19, 2013 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
In the biggest fight over firearms since December's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-control advocates are poised to notch a victory in an unlikely place.
A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
At a town hall that brought all sides of the gun debate together, was there a consensus? Sort of.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
The federal background check system for gun buyers didn't stop a mentally ill man from buying a gun, which he used to kill his mother.
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 0037 GMT (0837 HKT)
In disputes over the future of gun laws, people espousing different positions often literally don't understand each other.
ADVERTISEMENT