Michelle Obama to attend Hadiya Pendleton funeral in Chicago

Michelle Obama and Hadiya Pendleton pictured above.

February 6, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
A White House official tells ABC7 that first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Chicago on Saturday to attend the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton.

Mrs. Obama will be joined by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The 15-year-old King College Prep drum majorette was shot to death not far from the first family's South Side home soon after performing at President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities.

Pendleton's shooting death attracting national attention to Chicago's homicide and violence problem as local, state and federal officials push for stronger gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre.

Students, friends and friends of Hadiya Pendleton huddled together in the cold, rain and snow to honor and celebrate the young girl on the South Side Thursday evening.

After expressing their emotions in a private forum inside King College Prep, they held a candle light vigil outside.

News of Michelle Obama attending the service is a welcome gesture for the family.

"It's very moving that they are making a way for Michelle Obama to attend," Hadiya Pendleton's aunt Kimiko Pettis said. "Also it's not far from their home and it's hitting them at home."

"We're more than happy to welcome her," Hadiya Pendleton's father Nathaniel Pendleton Sr. told ABC7 News. "But it's obviously a very difficult time. But it will be very therapeutic."

The devolopment comes after several community activists including Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited King College Prep Thursday afternoon, urged the Obamas to come to Chicago to speak out about recent violence.

Saturday's funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 5141 S. State, in Chicago.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to speak at the services.