A 15-year-old girl who lived less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Chicago home and attended his inauguration last week was shot dead, becoming one of the latest victims of the city’s wave of killings.
Hadiya Pendleton died yesterday after taking shelter from the rain with other students near King College Prep High School, where she was on the volleyball team and was a band majorette. 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.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, a native of Chicago’s South Side, are keeping the family in their prayers, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said today.
“It’s a terrible tragedy any time a young person is struck down,” Carney said. “This is just another example of the problem we need to deal with.”
Congress is debating ways to curb gun violence after shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults. Obama backs a ban on sales of assault weapons, a proposal that faces opposition in Congress even as most of the public supports it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today took testimony from former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting Arizona constituents in 2011, and from Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association.
In calling for measures to contain gun violence, Obama regularly cites the daily toll in his adopted hometown, which bans guns shops and has strict gun-registration laws.
Julie Jovan, the lower-school department chairwoman at Providence St. Mel School, where Pendleton attended second grade, said she impressed teachers.
“She had a sparkle,” Jovan said in an interview. “She absolutely would have gone somewhere special and done great things.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, without mentioning the shooting, said today he is asking several mutual funds “to divest and blacklist” any gun manufacturers that oppose “common sense gun reforms.”
Emanuel sent letters today to the chief executives of Allianz, BlackRock, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Vanguard, James Investment Research and Capital World Investments, saying military-style guns and ammunition magazines need to be stopped before putting neighborhoods and police officers at risk.
“This has to be about doing what is morally right and not what is financially beneficial to their bottom lines,” Emanuel said in an e-mailed statement.
The 42 homicides this month in the nation’s third-largest city are outpacing the rate of 2012, which saw the highest number in four years, according to Chicago Police Department statistics.
Emanuel blamed last year’s violence spike in part on the warm weather. Pendleton was killed on a day when the temperatures hit 63 degrees Fahrenheit (16 Celsius), beating an old mark set in 1914, according to the National Weather Service.