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Two charged over murder of Chicago teenager

Hadiya Pendleton was shot near US president's Chicago home last month, just days after performing at his inauguration.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2013 09:06
Family and friends of Hadiya Pendleton, along with Michelle Obama, attended the teenager's funeral in Chicago [AP]

Two people have been charged with the murder of a 15-year-old student who was shot near US President Barack Obama’s Chicago home just one week after performing at his inauguration in Washington.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were arrested on Saturday night, after Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral earlier in the day where First Lady Michelle Obama was in attendance.

The pair have been charged with first-degree murder, among other charges, Chicago police said on Monday.

"Michael Ward confessed and indicated that Hadiya was not the intended target," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters.

"They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang."

Pendleton was with a group of friends who took cover during a rainstorm under a canopy in a park less than 2km from the Obama's home on the city's South Side.

Police said a man jumped over a fence, ran towards them and opened fire with a handgun. Pendleton was struck in the back and died later that day. Two others were injured in the January 29 attack.

Officers said none of the people in Pendleton's group were affiliated with gangs.

Gun violence

Pendleton’s background, her ties to Obama's inauguration and the proximity of her killing to his home, thrust her story into the national debate over gun control.

The girl's parents are set to sit with Michelle Obama during the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Obama is scheduled to return to his hometown three days later to discuss how to tackle gun violence.

There were more than 500 homicides in Chicago last year, making it the deadliest city in the US.

However, killings in the country's third largest city have not made headlines in the national media compared to recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.

"The only time when the gun issue ever gets affected is when Newtown happens," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, standing alongside his police chief on Monday.

"What happens in urban areas around the country too often ... gets put to the side."

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