First Lady to Attend Funeral for Murdered Chicago Teen

First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral for the 15-year-old Chicago girl who was killed last month in a shooting a mile from the Obama family’s home, according to a White House official.

The first lady’s decision to travel to the Feb. 9 service for Hadiya Pendleton follows days of pressure by community activists in Chicago for President Barack Obama to address violence in his adopted hometown.

Michelle Obama will be accompanied by presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a Chicago native who was head of the city’s public schools, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing the unannounced trip.

The first lady’s plans were reported earlier by the Chicago Tribune.

The Jan. 29 shooting of the teenager occurred amid a debate on ways to combat gun violence that was sparked by a mass shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that left 20 students and six educators dead. Obama is calling on Congress to pass restrictions on semiautomatic rifles and impose broader background checks for gun buyers, among other measures.

While Chicago, the nation’s third-most-populous city, has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, the 506 homicides there in 2012 were the most in four years.

Pendleton had attended the president’s inauguration in Washington earlier this month. She was killed as she took shelter from rain with other students near King College Prep High School, where she was a band majorette and played volleyball. She was shot in the back, and a 16-year-old boy was wounded by a gunman who sped away in a car, police said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at

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