CHICAGO — As calls for President Obama to attend the funeral Hadiya Pendleton continue to circulate, the family of the young girl who was gunned down Jan. 29 said they deeply appreciated a call from the White House offering condolences on behalf of President Obama.
According to Kimiko Pettis, Hadiya's aunt, a member of Obama's staff recently reached out to Cleopatra Pendleton to "acknowledge" her daughter during a time when gun control issues continue to resonate through the nation.
Over the last week, Hadiya Pendleton has become a symbol of the violence affecting Chicago's youth, drawing remarks from Chicago leaders and authorities nationwide.
"Oh, my gosh, she was shocked that the White House knew about the incident in the first place," Pettis said of Hadiya's mother. "Just the fact that everyone in a high ranking position knew about it."
Pettis also said she was impressed that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) mentioned the girl's name during a a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting last month.
"She felt warm and that her daughter was here for a purpose," Pettis said.
Hadiya, a 15-year-old high school sophomore at King College Prep, was gunned down on Jan. 29 not far from the president's Chicago home. She was with a group of teens trying to stay out of the rain while under a canopy at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park in the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue, authorities said.
At about 2:30 p.m, an unidentified shooter jumped a fence, ran toward them and opened fire. The group scrambled as the shooter jumped into a car, possibly driven by a second man, which then sped away, police said.
At a press conference on Monday, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy repeated his assurance that officers will catch Hadiya's killer.
"There are no two ways about it — we are going to break this case," he said. "We're getting a ton of calls as a result of [the $40,000 reward]."
However, the city's top cop acknowledged that none of the tips had "panned out" as of Monday.
Funeral services for Hadiya will be held Friday and Saturday.
Governor Pat Quinn reportedly will be speaking at the funeral, set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, at 5141 S. State St.