CHICAGO, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Two young men were charged Monday in the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago honor student who recently performed at the presidential inauguration.
Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, both of Chicago, were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.
Police said Ward confessed and was believed to be the shooter, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Williams, who had been shot in July, and Ward targeted the group Hadiya was with because they wrongly believed they were members of the gang responsible for wounding Williams.
Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said news of the arrests had brought a "legitimate" smile to his face for the first time since his 15-year-old daughter was killed in the Jan. 29 park shooting that left two other teenagers wounded.
"I'm ecstatic that they found the two guys," he told the Tribune in a telephone interview from a restaurant in Washington where he was with his wife, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, and other relatives. "[I'm] thanking God that these two guys are off the streets, so that this doesn't happen to another innocent person."
The Pendleton family was in the nation's capital to be guests of President Barack Obama while he delivers the State Of The Union address Tuesday night, the newspaper said.
First lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya's funeral Saturday in Chicago.
Nugent invited to Obama speech
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A Republican congressman from Texas says he invited gun-advocate rock musician Ted Nugent to be his guest at President Obama's State of the Union address.
Rep. Steve Stockman, himself a strong supporter of gun rights who introduced a bill last month to end all federal gun-free zones around schools, said he was sure Nugent "will have plenty to say" following Obama's Tuesday night speech, The Detroit News reported.
"I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House chamber to hear from President Obama," said Stockman, who also has threatened to file impeachment legislation against the president for pushing gun control.
Nugent, well-known for his fondness for guns, said at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis last April that if Obama were to be re-elected, he would "either be dead or in jail by this time next year." The avid hunter also has been fined in Alaska and California in recent years for illegal hunting activities, the newspaper said.
Crashed copter was filming reality show
ACTON, Calif., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The helicopter that crashed in California this weekend killing three people was filming a reality TV show for the Discovery Channel, network officials said.
Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County coroner's office identified the victims Monday as the pilot, David Gibbs, 59, of Valencia, and passengers Michael Donatelli, 45, of Pennsylvania and Darren Rydstrom, 46, of Whittier, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred," Discovery said in a statement. "We are all cooperating fully with authorities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."
Eyeworks officials also expressed their "deepest sympathies to the families of those involved."
"We can confirm that a helicopter crash occurred this morning while shooting a new series for a cable network, which resulted tragically in three fatalities," Eyeworks said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities."
The Bell 206 helicopter went down about 3:30 a.m. Sunday while a crew was shooting for a military-themed, unscripted show from Eyeworks at the Polsa Rosa Ranch at Acton, Variety reported.
The cause of the crash was being investigated.
Medal of Honor awarded to Afghan war hero
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor Monday to a heroic Army veteran who led an Alamo-like defense of an outpost against 300 Taliban in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha was recognized for leading the charge against the Taliban insurgents trying to capture the outpost housing 53 U.S. troops near the Pakistan border Oct. 3, 2009.
Eight American soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded in the attack at Combat Outpost Keating. Romesha was a section leader with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division in Afghanistan.
"Clint, this is our nation's military decoration," Obama said during the ceremony honoring the fourth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. "It reflects the gratitude of our entire country."
Taliban fighters attacked the outpost from the mountainsides above and Romesha led efforts to beat back the Taliban after some of its fighters penetrated the camp's perimeter.
The outpost was at the bottom of a valley, Obama said, noting an investigation determined the terrain "gave ideal cover for insurgents to attack."
The investigation also found Camp Outpost Keating "was tactically indefensible," the president said. "But that's what these soldiers were asked to do, defend the indefensible."