The death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton has sparked change in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to place 200 additional police officers on patrol duty to combat gun violence. The girl was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the city’s south side. Police believe that Pendleton, an honor student at the nearby King College Prep High School, was most likely not the target of the attack. No suspects have been identified, and the city is offering a $24,000 reward for information in the case.
“When any young person in our city is gunned down without reason, it demands action from all of us,” Emanuel said during a press conference Thursday. “As we grieve for Hadiya, we need to work together to protect our greatest resource, the children of the city of Chicago.”
“We have a responsibility to see a stop to this,” he added. “And all of us are responsible.”
The teen was killed just a week after she performed in President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Though Chicago’s crime rate has gone down since Emanuel took office in 2011, the city’s homicide rate has gone up drastically. Pendleton is one of 42 people killed in Chicago this month, making it the most deadly January since 2002. The trend of violence has become another point of contention in the nation’s gun control debate.
Speaking to CNN, Hadiya’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, welcomed the use of his daughter’s death in the gun control discussion. White House spokesman Jay Carney made mention of the young girl’s death during his press briefing Thursday, linking it to an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence.
“And as the president said, we will never be able to eradicate every act of evil in this country,” Carney said, “but if we can save even one child’s life, we have an obligation to try when it comes to the scourge of gun violence.”