Hundreds gather to mourn 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton

February 8, 2013 8:40:14 PM PST
Mourners gathered Friday to pay respects to the family of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton, the high school student who was shot and killed last week.

Hundreds lined up at the visitation for the teenager.

One by one they arrived to support the family-some who knew Pendleton and many others who feel like they did.

"I'm a mother of three myself and I don't even want to begin to imagine how the parents are feeling," mourner Joanne Norwood.

"It represents another lost soul, another lost child in this city, someone who had so much potential, that could have done something for the city and something for the country," mourner Evan Chappell said.

Hadiya Pendleton's mother, Cleo Pendleton, offered hugs at the open casket of her daughter.

A video celebrating Hadiya Pendleton's life was played for the mourners, who included the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

"I'm confident that God sent her down here for a purpose. I don't believe God made a mistake," Hadiya Pendleton's godfather Damon Stewart said. "And I think she's looking at God smiling, and God is looking at her smiling and saying, 'good job.'"

Pendleton was gunned down ten days ago while hanging out with friends in a Kenwood park, just a mile from President Obama's home and a week after she and her school's band performed at the Inauguration.

Outside the funeral home, Hadiya Pendleton's fellow performers sang the song they belted out in Washington DC less than three weeks ago.

The performance sparked tears similar to those that flowed earlier in the day as classmates and family spent time with the body.

"Sometimes God takes a flower that's noticeable for us to understand.He doesn't just take the bad guy. He takes the good guy to get our attention," mourner Selvin Jones said.

There is pressure on Chicago and federal officials to take action and curb the city's violence problem.

No arrests have been made since she was gunned down on January 29 as she sought shelter from the rain in the park.

"And as we stand here today, we await as we investigate the Hadiya Pendleton murder. The city waits. The nation waits. And the family waits for healing," Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.

Mourner Joseph Terry thinks that something might change with Hadiya's passing.

"I think with the attention; I think it will make a difference," Terry said.

First Lady Michelle Obama will be among the mourners at Greater Harvest Baptist Church for the funeral Saturday.

The family is grateful for Michelle Obama's support.

"It says to us that not only is she coming in support of our family, but she is a parent. She has daughters. She understands," Hadiya Pendleton's cousin Shatira Wilks said.

ABC7 News learned that Pendleton's parents will be in Washington DC on February 12 to attend a Senate committee hearing on gun violence.

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address is later that same day though the family won't say if the Pendletons have been invited.

"This is not political. It's personal. And it should be personal to every father, to every mother, and to anybody who's ever lost anybody, this should be personal," Stewart said.