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Emanuel Chokes Up Discussing Teen’s Murder: ‘She Is What Is Best In Our City’

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, an honor student who had performed with her school band at President Barack Obama's inauguration. (Credit: CBS)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, an honor student who had performed with her school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An emotional Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Kenwood, a week after performing with her school band at President Obama’s inaugural, was “what is best in our city,” and the gunman who killed her was a “punk.”

Emanuel’s voice cracked as he said he spoke to Hadiya Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton.

Hadiya was 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. Tuesday, when someone jumped a fence, ran up to them, and opened fire. Hadiya died less than an hour later. A boy was also wounded in the shooting.

“Nothing pains you more than calling a fellow parent, trying to comfort them,” Emanuel said.

Just days before, Hadiya performed with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

“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.”

The mayor also spoke to the boy who was wounded.

Emanuel said somebody needs to come forward with information that will lead to arrests.

“If anybody has any information, you are not a snitch. You’re a citizen,” the mayor said.

He also said he met with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Wednesday morning to discuss tactics and hinted there will be changes with the police department.

However, he did not give specifics.

“It’s not just a policing issue,” Emanuel said. “Those kids just took a final. They have a right to be able to be at a playground near their school as they’re going to go home.”

The Kenwood neighborhood park is near King College Prep High School — where Hadiya was an honor student, volleyball player, and majorette.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, at a hearing on gun violence on Wednesday, said Hadiya’s death came “just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life,” when she performed at Obama’s second inaugural.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said “the president’s and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton.”

Durbin said Chicago is “awash in guns.” He said the number of guns confiscated in Chicago is six times that of New York City.

“We have guns everywhere and some believe the solution is more guns. I disagree.”

A witness said the teens 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.

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.

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