An $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person who shot a 15-year-old honor student Tuesday in a Chicago park. Meanwhile, the girl’s parents, police and city leaders called for the community to help police identify the person responsible for the death of Hadiya Pendleton.
Last week, the high school majorette marched in the Washington, D.C. for the inaugural parade of President Barack Obama. Tuesday as she hung out with friends in a park after school, she was shot in the back, police said.
“They took the light of my life,” Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya’s father said during a Wednesday news conference as he fought back the tears and embraced his younger son. “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman, man, you took the light of my life…Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”
Hadiya, a sophomore at King College Preparatory School, was with friends in Harsh Park a few blocks from the school Tuesday afternoon when a gunman came over the fence and started shooting, police said.
Two other friends in the group also were wounded, a police spokesman told BlackAmericaweb.com. Hadiya and a wounded male were taken to a nearby hospital.
The death has sparked outrage in a city that has seen 42 homicides in the first month of the year.
Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Catholic Church said the church is putting up $5,000 of the reward money and called it “bounty” on the head of the killer.
“This is Sandy Hook. This is Connecticut. This is Newtown right here,” Pfleger said referring to the mass killing of students and teachers at a school earlier this month by a lone gunman.
Pfleger wants to see killers jailed and residents more involved in making their communities safer.
“We love those who want to turn around. But if you want to shoot, if you want to kill, your but needs to be in jail,” Pfleger said during the press conference.
Part of the responsibility for curbing violence in Chicago rests with the residents, Pfleger said. “The police come in when something happens. When do we stand up and make them (criminals) afraid to do something on our block?”
Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp, in an interview with Black Americaweb.com, also said residents must step up and do their part in helping stem that city’s escalating rate of gun violence and homicides.