CHICAGO (CBS) — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Friday the search for the killer of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton is “at a critical point.”
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, after a graduation ceremony for 70 new detectives, McCarthy said investigators have made progress in solving Hadiya’s murder. Reading between the lines, it could be significant progress.
“There is, but I don’t want to comment on any of it, because it’s at a very, very … it’s at a critical point where there are some things that we expect are going to make a difference in the very near future,” he said. “But I really can’t reveal it to you, because it could jeopardize everything.”
McCarthy said it took detectives nearly 24 hours to track down the group of students who were with Hadiya at Harsh Park in Kenwood when she was shot and killed last week, because they were afraid of retaliation. He said that’s what detectives are up against every day.
McCarthy said, although none of the students who were with Hadiya are involved in gangs – and neither was Hadiya – the shooting itself has gang overtones.
Haidya, who performed with the King College Prep High School marching band in Washington last month, was shot while she and a group of schoolmates were taking shelter from the rain in a small park on the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Avenue last week in the Kenwood neighborhood. Two boys also were wounded in the shooting.
Police believe a gang member opened fire on the group, mistakenly believing he was targeting a rival gang member. Pendleton was an athlete and honor student who had no gang ties; neither did any of the other students with Hadiya at the time.
Just days before, Hadiya performed with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities.
During the detectives’ graduation ceremony Friday, McCarthy told them to never lose their compassion, and he specifically mentioned Hadiya’s case.
“We await as we investigate the Hadiya Pendleton murder. The city waits, the nation waits, and the family waits for healing,” he said. “The methodical investigation that these investigators are conducting – I saw it in their eyes, the determination.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also mentioned the case in his remarks to the new detectives.
“Your dedication to your profession and to your city will bring to the Pendleton family a sense of closure that they deserve, a sense of justice that the city demands,” the mayor said.
Hadiya’s murder, which happened about a mile from President Barack Obama’s home, has made national headlines and brought renewed focus on the problem of escalating gun violence in Chicago.
First Lady Michelle Obama, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were scheduled to attend Hadiya’s funeral on Saturday on the South Side.
“I believe the significance of the first lady coming here is that it rightfully brings attention. Just like Sandy Hook deserves the attention that it received, or Columbine, or any other issue; it rightfully deserves the attention, because we’re in a city where we’ve got 80 to 85 percent of our shootings involve some kind of gang overtone, as this one does,” McCarthy said.