NBC News reports about a 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends in bullet-scarred Chicago.
Hadiya Pendleton — described by a relative as a “walking angel” — was standing under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire at the group and fled in a white car, police said.
Pendleton was shot in the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.
A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident. Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the intended target.
“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”
“It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on gun violence.
“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”
Cousin Shatira Wilks said the upcoming inauguration trip was the talk of a family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even more excited about something else: plans to spend the summer studying in Paris.
“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said. “Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any problems ever.”
Wilks said the teen doted on her 10-year-old brother, Junior, who is devastated.
“At Christmas this year, she was designated the elf and she handed out all the gifts,” she recalled.
“She loved rock music. She was always listening and playing to music,” Wilks said,. “What you would usually catching her doing is texting on her phone, like all the teenagers.”
Pendleton last tweeted just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday. “I’m tired,” she wrote.
Many of her classmates changed their Twitter handles to honor her and decried the violence that had claimed an innocent life.
“You are more than loved and missed,” one wrote. “Your laugh smile and silly happy personality has made my day more times than I can remember. Nobody deserves this, especially not you.”
Friends of the young majorette described her as a bubbly, well-liked student.
“She was always smiling and laughing,” said Tyler Genovesi, 14. “She was just a really nice person. … There’s a lot of people crying in school today. It’s very sad. The band is playing for her right now.”
The shooting happened in an upscale neighborhood where residents were shocked.
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