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Michelle Obama Attends Funeral Of Slain Girl

posted 10 Feb 2013, 10:51 by Mpelembe   [ updated 10 Feb 2013, 10:52 ]

First lady Michelle Obama attends the funeral of a slain Chicago girl

 CHICAGOILLINOISUNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 9, 2013) (NBC) -  First lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral of a Chicago girl Saturday (February 9) whose slaying days after she performed at the presidential inauguration in Washington added to the heightened national attention to the toll from gun violence.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was fatally shot on January 29 as she and her friends shielded themselves from rain under a canopy in a Chicago park in what police say was a case of mistaken identity in a gang turf war.

Pendleton, a sophomore at Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep, had performed with her school band eight days earlier at President Barack Obama's inauguration. A $40,000 reward has been offered in the case.

"You don't know how hard this really is. And those of you who do know how hard this is, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No mother, no father, should ever have to experience this," saidHayida's mother, Cleopatra Pendleton at the memorial service at Greater Harvest Baptist Church in Chicago.

A "We the People" petition on the White House website signed by more than 1,000 people called on the president and his family to attend Pendleton's funeral. The first family's home is about a mile from the park where Pendleton was killed.

"We're here because of an innocent victim of gun violence. Anthony and Cleo, your angel has become the face and the tragic reality of this epidemic of gun violence that is causing funeral processions of our children," said Father Michael Pfleger during the service.

Pendleton's death follows a massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at a Connecticutelementary school in December that inspired an intense U.S. debate about the easy availability of guns. In response, Obama has called for new restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Hundreds of mourners stood in long lines on Friday to pay their respects to Pendleton at a Chicago funeral home. Other mourners knew Pendleton as a majorette who had performed at the inauguration and as a volleyball player.

Pendleton's killing spurred calls from civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and the families of murder victims for Obama to address the gun violence in Chicago, his hometown and the third largest city in the United States.

There were 506 homicides last year in Chicago, a 17 percent increase from the prior year, and 42 more victims in January, including Pendleton.