No Bail for Chicago Gang Members in Hadiya Pendleton’s Death

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  • CHICAGO (AP) — A judge has ordered two gang members held without bail in the death of a 15-year-old Chicago honor student.

    Cook County Judge Israel Desierto on Tuesday ordered 18-year-old Michael Ward and 20-year-old Kenneth Williams held.

    The two men are charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 29 death of Hadiya Pendleton. The girl was shot dead just days after she performed at events for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. First lady Michelle Obama attended her funeral.

    Prosecutors say they have cellphone records placing Ward in the same area when Hadiya was shot. They say Ward told police his gang and a rival gang had been shooting at each other since 2010. Ward said the rival gang killed one of his friends and he was still upset.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

    Chicago police say two gang members charged in the death of a 15-year-old honor student mistook her and her friends for members of a rival gang and attacked the group in retaliation for a shooting that injured one of them over the summer.

    Hadiya Pendleton died after being shot in a park about a mile from the Chicago home of President Barack Obama on Jan. 29, just days after she performed during his inauguration festivities in Washington. Her death was among dozens of homicides in Chicago last month, though her background and ties to Obama thrust her death into the national headlines.

    Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were charged Monday with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday night. Both were taken into custody late Saturday while on their way to a strip club — and just hours after first lady Michelle Obama and other dignitaries attended Pendleton’s funeral.

    “Ward confessed and indicated Hadiya was not the intended target. They got it all wrong,” McCarthy said.

    Pendleton, a popular high school majorette, was with a group of friends who took cover during a rainstorm under a canopy in a park about a mile from the Obama home on the city’s South Side. Police said a man hopped a fence, ran toward them and opened fire with a handgun before fleeing in a waiting car. Pendleton was struck in the back and died later that day. Two others were injured.

    McCarthy said Ward told investigators he thought he was shooting into the crowd of a rival gang, and that the shooting was meant as retaliation for Williams being shot in the arm in July. Police said neither Pendleton nor her friends were affiliated with gangs.

    Williams, who refused to cooperate with authorities after the July shooting, was driving the getaway car, McCarthy said. He added that both men were arrested while on their way to a strip club to celebrate a friend’s birthday Saturday night.

    Pendleton’s death was one of more than 40 homicides in Chicago in January, a total that made it the deadliest January in the city in more than a decade. But her murder attracted national attention and helped put Chicago at the center of a national debate over gun control.

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