The U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama, joined today hundreds of people who participated in the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, 15-year-old, who was killed in a shootout days after participating in the ceremony inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The first lady, dressed in black, attended the funeral along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett.
Michelle Obama met privately with the family of the teenager before the start of the funeral, as well as with a group of friends and classmates Pendleton, said a White House official said the Chicago Tribune.
On the back of the funeral program’s printed a note sent by the President, Barack Obama, to the family in ensuring that “continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence.”
Hundreds of people lined up at the doors of Harvest Baptist Church in the Washington Park neighborhood in Chicago, to pay their respects to the teenager, who participated in “majorett” band of King College Prep in the inauguration parade of President Obama, on January 21.
Pendleton was with his friends at the Vivian Gordon Harsh Park at noon on January 29, 2013 when a gunman ran down an alley and opened fire on the youth group for later fled in a car, according to police reports.
The girl, who was shot in the back, ran but she collapsed and died later in the hospital where she was admitted in emergency, while another 16-year-old girl who was in the group was injured in the incident.
Her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, briefly spoke to the standing room only crowd, often with a smile and even a laugh.
“My baby did all this,’’ she said, wearing a big red flower on her chest and a sparkly scarf, and clearly enjoying the music. “This is all Hadiya.’’
“The outpouring of support has been absolutely amazing,’’ she said.
There is a $ 40,000 reward in exchange for information leading to the executor of the shooting.
The weapons debate has reopened in the United States after the death last December of a dozen children in a school shooting in Newtown (Connecticut), which also killed six teachers and the aggressor.
After learning of the death of the young, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, called the incident a “terrible tragedy” and said that this is “another example of the problem we have to solve (regarding gun violence)”.
Chicago is the U.S. city with more firearms by the police intervened and since the beginning of the year 46 people have died in shootings.
Friends in the church described a girl who gave “the most sincere hug,” but the air the room was also thick with discussion of how Pendleton’s death had gathered national attention.
“While we can not prevent all gun violence we have to act, without affecting the Second Amendment and do so in a responsible manner,” said presidential spokesman.
“The fact that we can not solve the whole problem does not mean you have to act,” he insisted.
“We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but 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,” it reads.