Hadiya Pendleton knew she lived in a big world. And the more of it she saw, the better.
After returning from Washington, D.C., where the Chicago teenager performed as a majorette during last week’s inauguration festivities, she had her eye on her next destination: Paris.
For family and friends of the 15-year-old sophomore, who was fatally shot Tuesday in a park near her school on Chicago's South Side, their Hadiya is gone, but her dreams and their memories are not.
The victim’s mother shook her head and wiped away heavy tears during an interview Tuesday with WFLD-TV in Chicago: “I’m not worried about where she’s going. I know who has her. I just miss her. My heart … there’s a whole section of my heart that’s gone.”
After finishing a day of final exams Tuesday at their college preparatory high school, Hadiya and several other students headed to a nearby park. About 2:20 p.m., after the group had staked out a spot under a canopy as rain pelted down, a male jumped a nearby fence, charged toward them and started shooting, Chicago police said.
Police are still searching for the shooter, who probably "mistook the group for gang members and fired at them." Authorities don't think the killer targeted Hadiya, who was shot in the back and later died at a hospital. A male shooting victim is in serious condition, police said.
Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for Chicago public schools, said King College Prep was one of two in the district that sent students to perform at the inauguration. King canceled its final exams for today.
“We do have a crisis team at the school to help provide counselors to students, for anybody that wants support,” Sainvilus said. The school has about 900 students.
Hadiya’s friends and classmates used the Twitter hashtag #HadiyaWorld to commemorate the sophomore, who often flashed an easy smile and a peace sign.
Some people posted pictures of Hadiya in her majorette uniform and others of a quickly designed black sweater that reads: “Keep calm and remember Hadiya.”
Another post honors Hadiya and encourages those mourning her death: “Hadiya came into all our lives the way she did for a reason. She was a positive, bright, beautiful, happy, young girl. And more people should strive to be more like her. Remember God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.”
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