First Lady Michelle Obama will return to Chicago to attend the funeral of slain 15-year-old King College Prep High School student, Hadiya Pendleton, the White House confirmed.
Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, also Chicagoans, will accompany her to the service.
Pendletonhad just finished taking final exams at school on January 29 and was taking shelter from the rain with a group of students in Harsh Park — about one mile from Obama’s Southside home — when a gunman jumped a fence and shot at the group. Hadiya, fatally shot in the back, was an “unintentional target,” according to authorities.
“This guy, whoever he was, the gunman … you took the light of my life,” Hadiya’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said. “Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”
A member of her school’s drill team, Hadiya recently performed at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, a moment that Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) called the “happiest day of [her] young life.”
Hadiya’s tragic murder has become a a focal point in convergent debates on gun control and gang violence. The First Lady’s attendance is likely in response to Chicago community leaders demanding that President Obama address the spiraling violence in the Windy City, and a White House “We The People” petition urging him to attend the funeral.
According to the Chicago Tribune, visitation for Hadiya’s is “scheduled for 2 to 9 p.m. Friday in Calahan Funeral Home at 7030 S. Halsted St. On Saturday, the wake continues at 9 a.m. followed by the funeral at 11 a.m. in Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 5141 S. State St.”
There is currently a $40,000 reward for any information in Hadiya’s death.