As community members marched in memory of Hadiya Pendleton today, officials announced the reward for information in the slaying of the King College Prep sophomore has been increased to $30,000.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and other police officials were expected to join several pastors at her high school, King College Prep, to announce the increased reward. After that, an anti-violence march in Hadiya's honor started at King, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.
Hadiya had just finished her final exams at King College Prep, and was hanging out with friends from the school's volleyball team when she was gunned down Tuesday in Harsh Park, in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Avenue. Thursday afternoon, police announced the reward for information leading to an arrest in the shooting had increased to $24,000, up from $11,000 announced Wednesday.
Dozens of adults and children marched this afternoon from King Prep High School to Harsh Park, the scene of the shooting.
They were escorted by at least six police vehicles as the crowd chanted, urging anyone with information about Pendleton's slaying to come forward.
"If you know who did this, turn them in!" shouted Melvin, a man who led the march but did not want to provide his last name out of fear of retaliation. "If you don't support this, next it might be you!"
When the march reached Harsh Park, Melvin urged Chicago police to hire more new officers, not just redistribute desk workers.
Raven Barnes, 18, a King College Prep senior who was friends with Hadiya, said she "always had a smile on her face."
"I never thought it would happen to Hadiya because she's one of the nicest people," Barnes said. "She didn't deserve it."
Hadiya recently broke up an "altercation" between Barnes and another girl, Barnes recalled. She said Hadiya convinced her to avoid the conflict and swear off fighting with other girls for good.
"She just was a person who hated violence," Barnes said. "She didn't want any violence ... ever. It's just so sad that violence took her life."
Darcell Igbo, who was Hadiya's volleyball coach since her freshman year, remembered her as "goofy" and always having a positive attitude. "She was one of the nice kids," he said.
Igbo recalled one game where he hollered Hadiya's name from the sidelines, and she looked toward him just before the ball smacked her in the leg.
"She just kind of shook it off," he said, chuckling. "She laughed at it. We all laughed at it."
Igbo said he hopes Hadiya's death raises awareness for the "senselessness" of the gun violence plaguing Chicago streets.
"I don't know how many more lives it's going to take," he said, tears streaming down his face. "It should only take one."
Hadiya and the others had sought shelter from a rainstorm under a canopy at the park around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday when a gunman jumped a fence, ran toward them and opened fire, police said.
As the teens scattered, Hadiya and two teenage boys were shot. Hadiya was hit in the back and pronounced dead at Comer Children's Hospital less than an hour after the shooting. The wounds suffered by the boys were not life-threatening.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy stressed that neither Hadiya nor anyone in the group she was with were involved with gangs. But it appears the gunman mistook the students for members of a rival gang, he said. The shooter was last seen fleeing in a white Nissan.
“These were good kids by everything that I learned," McCarthy said at a Wednesday news conference. "Wrong place at the wrong time.”
Pastor Courtney Maxwell, the family’s pastor, has offered $6,000, increasing the reward to $30,000, according to the statement.
Hadiya was shot a little more than a week after performing with the King College Prep band in the Washington, D.C. area during President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities. The shooting occurred in a park about a mile north of Obama's Kenwood home.
The shooting has drawn the attention of both the White House, which is pushing for national gun control, and City Hall as Chicago closes on a violent January. Hadiya was the 42nd homicide victim this year in the city, where killings last year climbed above 500.
Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, pleaded for someone to step forward and bring the 15-year-old's killer to justice.
"She was destined for great things," he said.
Hadiya was a majorette with the band at King, one of the city's elite selective-enrollment schools. She dreamed of going to Northwestern University and talked about becoming a pharmacist or a journalist, maybe a lawyer.
Police have reported no arrests.
Chicago Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek contributed.
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