A 15-year-old Chicago honor student was fatally gunned down Tuesday, just a week after performing at the presidential inauguration.
Hadiya Pendleton had recently left her high school, King College Prep on the South Side of Chicago, after taking exams, when she and her volleyball teammates huddled under a canopy in Harsh Park for shelter from rain, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Around 2:20 p.m., a boy or man jumped a fence in the park, ran toward the youngsters and opened fire, according to police.
Pendleton was shot in the back, while another King student, a 16-year-old boy, was shot in the leg. Police report that the killer got into a vehicle and left the scene; no arrests have been made.
“It's very painful to see your big sister get slaughtered,” Nathaniel Pendleton Jr., Hadiya's 10-year-old brother, told the Tribune.
Hadiya's friends and family are left to mourn a teen they described as an excellent student and overachiever.
"There were a lot of good opportunities that were coming her way. She was just taking them all,” Hadiya’s godmother, Lakeisha Stewart, told the Tribune. "She was the kid who you had to say, ‘Slow down, you can’t do everything.' "
Involved in several school activities, including the Majorettes drill team, Pendleton had just performed with the school’s marching band at the Presidential Inauguration Heritage Music Festival, a presidential brunch and at a political event at Howard University during last week's inaugural festivities, according to ABC30.
Pendleton had traveled with the school band to New Orleans to perform at Mardi Gras, and she was gearing up to travel to Dublin and Paris for performances. Her family said she had aspirations to attend Northwestern University and also wanted to do an exchange program in France.
The Daily Mail notes that the shooting took place just blocks from President Barack Obama’s Chicago home on Greenwood Avenue.
“The school is good but the neighborhood is not," King student Anta Nije told Fox News. “When we step outside the school, anything can happen to us.”
Pendleton’s mother, in fact, was planning to move her children to a safer neighborhood.
“Believe it or not, her mom was just looking to move to Naperville,” a suburb, Hadiya's cousin, Shatira Wilks, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Her mom wanted her to take her kids to an even better community and make sure her education is number one. Her daughter has never ever given her mother a problem. This girl was literally a walking angel.”
Teens at the park have not been cooperative with the police and there are no suspects or arrests yet, according to the Tribune. Police believe the shooting was gang-related and that Pendleton was an “unintended target.”
Hadiya’s godfather, Damon Stewart, an attorney and Chicago police officer, said she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I’ve known this little girl her entire life," added Lakeisha Stewart. "I can’t think of a moment that this child did anything wrong. She always strived to do the right thing."