Updated 01/30/13 – 10:11 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel met Wednesday night with relatives and classmates of the honor student who was slain in the Kenwood neighborhood on Tuesday, a week after she had performed with her school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports the victim, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, was taking shelter from the rain with a group of 10 to 12 teenagers under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue around 2:30 p.m., when someone jumped a fence, ran up to them, and opened fire.
Police have said neither Hadiya nor the people she was with were in a gang, but it is believed the shooter mistook someone in the crowd for a rival gang member, and shot at them.
Coincidentally, Hadiya had appeared in a public service announcement about gang violence in late 2008.
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Emanuel met with Hadiya’s family and some of her classmates Wednesday night at the Pendleton home in Bronzeville.
Earlier Wednesday, the mayor, in response to questions about murders and violent crime, said “we’re gonna make changes.”
He was set to announce some of those changes on Thursday with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. They will hold a public meeting, where they will reveal plans to put more police officers on the streets.
The moves are expected to mirror recommendations made last week by the city’s inspector general, who suggested having civilians take over the administrative jobs handled by nearly 300 police officers.
Though the IG’s recommendation was made as a money-saving suggestion, the Emanuel administration is expected to instead shift the officers to crime-fighting duties, while bringing in civilians to handle the desk jobs they once worked.
Just days before she was killed, Hadiya performed with her high school band at the parade for President Obama’s second inaugural celebration in Washington.
“She is what is best in our city. A child going to school, who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural,” Emanuel said. “You look at her, you look at how she talked about her future. She took her final exams. She had dreams. And this gang-banger, this punk took that away from Cleopatra. They took it away from Hadiya. And in my view, they took it away from the city of Chicago.”
CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reports the park where Hadiya was shot is just blocks from King College Prep High School — where she was an honor student, volleyball player, and majorette with the school band.
Hadiya, who dreamed of becoming a lawyer, was part of the school’s Crystal Elegance marching band’s majorette team, which performed at President Barack Obama’s second inaugural last week.
Hadiya’s father described her as a “shining light.”
“She would brighten up a room when she walked in,” Nathaniel Pendleton said. “They took someone that had a real shining light.”
Hadiya’s father tried to find peace with his daughter’s sudden death.
“She’s passed on to a better place,” he said.
Hadiya’s godfather, Damon Stewart, who also is a Chicago police officer, said his goddaughter’s death must have great meaning.
“Maybe this is a time for the people to point at themselves, and say ‘Okay, am I mentoring people in my family?’” he said. “If these individuals … are exposed to a little bit more love, maybe they’ll be less likely to taking out a life.”
An $11,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information on the shooting can call a community tip line that has been set up for this case: 1-800-U-TELL-US (883-5587). You can also call Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8380.
A witness said the teens who were with Hadiya at the time of the shooting scattered and ran out of the park in a panic after the shots were fired. Hadiya and a boy who also was shot collapsed about a block away, in front of one of the upscale condo row houses that line Oakenwald.
Hadiya was struck once in the back, and died at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital less than an hour later.
The teenage boy who was shot was struck in the leg. He also was being treated at Comer Children’s Hospital.
A neighbor who lives next to the park said he heard six shots, and saw a man he believes was the killer. The man was wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans. The witness said the man drove off in a white Nissan.
Police said they were still working on a description of the killer Wednesday night.
Another neighbor was shaken by the eruption of violence.
“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 said.
McCarthy gathered with Hadiya’s family Wednesday afternoon at the park where she was shot.
“We’re here to stand with the community, to ask anybody in the community with information about this incident to please come forward,” McCarthy said.
Police said Hadiya had no gang affiliation and likely wasn’t the intended target. Several of the teens with her at the time, however, were believed to be gang members.