Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a sophomore at King College Prep was fatally shot Tuesday as she and a group of other students gathered under a canopy in the park not far from the school, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. Police said a 16-year-old boy was wounded.
Asked about the shooting, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters: "It's a terrible tragedy any time a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them.And we see it far too often. The president and the first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton. All of our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Carney said he was unaware of a petition asking Obama to attend the girl's funeral, and didn't know if the president reached out to the family.
Pendleton attended Obama's inauguration in Washington and performed at inaugural events with the school's band and drill team.
Police said most of the people in the park were gang affiliated and people with Pendleton's group didn't remain on scene after the shooting. Investigators said their initial information indicated Pendleton didn't belong to a gang, but others in the group may have.
Officials said a man jumped a fence near the group, opened fire then fled in a vehicle. Police said Pendleton was not the target.
"As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy. ... He hits the one that hurts the most to lose," said Chicago Police Officer Damon Stewart, who is Pendleton's godfather. "I changed her diapers. I played with her growing up. My heart is broken."
The victim's cousin, Shatira Wilks, said Pendleton was "a huge reader, loves stories and novels and was naturally smart, always on the honor roll."
"She was caught up in the violence of the city."
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