By Marisa Gerber
9:37 PM EST, January 30, 2013
More than once, Hadiya Pendleton and President Obama walked the same streets.
Last week, the high school sophomore performed as a majorette at his inauguration in Washington. On Tuesday, she was gunned down in a park a mile from Obama’s home on Chicago’s South Side.
By Wednesday, as word of Hadiya’s death rippled around the country, an official petition cropped up asking that Obama and his family return to their hometown to attend the girl’s funeral.
“The president and first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday. When reporters asked Carney about the petition, he said he hadn’t heard about it yet and didn’t have any scheduling updates.
After taking final exams Tuesday, 15-year-old Hadiya and other students headed to a nearby park, where they took shelter under a canopy to avoid a downpour. A gunman rushed toward them and started shooting, police said. Officers called Hadiya an “unintended target.”
A day after she died, her story resonated locally and nationally.
At an unrelated event covered by local media Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke briefly about Hadiya.
“She had dreams,” Emanuel said. “And these – this gang-banger, this punk – took that away from [her mother] Cleopatra, they took it away from Hadiya and, in my view, they took it away from the city of Chicago.”
Police have not identified the suspect, but said that "every indication now points to the fact that the area is a hangout for gang members."During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Wednesday, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) mentioned Hadiya.
“Yesterday, in a rainstorm after school, she raced to a shelter,” Durbin said. “A gunman came in and shot her dead.” He winced at the sentence's last word.
“We have guns everywhere,” Durbin said, sweeping his right hand in front of him to stress his point. “And some believe the solution is more guns. I disagree.”