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First lady attends funeral of Chicago shooting victim

9:36 AM, Feb 9, 2013   |    comments
  • First lady Michelle Obama speaks during the presentation ceremony of the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department March 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Ten women from around the world were presented with the awards during the sixth annual ceremony to recognize their courage and leadership. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
  • First lady Michelle Obama speaks during the presentation ceremony of the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department March 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Ten women from around the world were presented with the awards during the sixth annual ceremony to recognize their courage and leadership. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    
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USA TODAY - A Chicago family planned to bury a 15-year-old girl Saturday amid renewed calls for an end to gun violence.

Hadiya Pendleton, an honors student and band majorette in prep school, died after being shot while talking with friends on Jan. 29, little more than a week after visiting Washington to perform at an event for President Obama's second inaugural.

The shooter, a suspected gang member who may have fired randomly into a crowd of students, has not been apprehended.

First lady Michelle Obama and other government officials are attending Hadiya's funeral at Greater Harvest Baptist Church in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood.

Kristina Schake, communications director for Mrs. Obama, said that, "as a mother and Chicagoan, the First Lady was heartbroken to learn of the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton due to senseless gun violence. Too many times we've seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them."

The shooting took place about a mile from the Obamas' home in Chicago.

Hadiya's death accelerated calls for new federal gun control legislation proposed shortly after the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Those calls are particularly loud in Chicago, which recorded 506 homicides in 2012.

Mrs. Obama planned to attend the funeral with two other administration officials who hail from Chicago, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Also in attendance: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Obama.

The Obama administration has proposed a legislative package that includes a renewed assault weapons ban, expanded background checks for gun buyers, and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines, as well as new school safety and mental health programs.

Some congressional Republicans say gun control laws are ineffective and violate Second Amendment rights to gun ownership; they attribute gun violence more to challenges like gang activity, the drug trade and mental health issues.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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