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First Lady Attends Funeral Of Chicago Shooting Victim

1:09 PM, Feb 9, 2013   |    comments
Hadiya Pendleton, CBS Chicago
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CHICAGO -- As first lady Michelle Obama and mourners paid their respects, a Chicago family buried a 15-year-old girl Saturday amid renewed calls for an end to gun violence.

Hadiya Pendleton, an honors student and band majorette in prep school, died after being shot while talking with friends on Jan. 29, little more than a week after visiting Washington to perform at an event for President Obama's second inauguration.

Mrs. Obama met privately with bereaved mother Cleopatra Pendleton and other family members, while the president sent a note pledging to work to end the scourge of gun violence.

In the note, Obama said he and the first lady are "heartbroken" over Hidaya's death. "Rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence," the president wrote.

Kristina Schake, communications director for Mrs. Obama, said that, "as a mother and Chicagoan, the first lady was heartbroken to learn of the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton due to senseless gun violence. Too many times we've seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them."

The shooter, a suspected gang member who may have fired randomly into a crowd of students, has not been apprehended.

Hadiya's death accelerated calls for new federal gun-control legislation proposed shortly after the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Those calls are particularly loud in Chicago, which recorded 506 homicides in 2012.

The first lady went to the funeral with two other administration officials who hail from Chicago, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Other public officials also attended the funeral at Greater Harvest Baptist Church in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood. They included Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Obama.

The shooting took place about a mile from the Obamas' home in Chicago.

The hundreds of mourners included Hadiya's fellow majorettes, wearing their black and gold team jackets. The funeral included a heavy security presence because of the first lady's attendance.

The Obama administration has proposed a legislative package that includes a renewed assault-weapons ban, expanded background checks for gun buyers, and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines, as well as new school safety and mental health programs.

Some congressional Republicans say gun-control laws are ineffective and violate Second Amendment rights to gun ownership; they attribute gun violence more to challenges like gang activity, the drug trade and mental health issues.

USA Today

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