Hadiya Pendleton’s death draws White House attention, petition

The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton has drawn national attention, prompting renewed calls for gun regulation and reigniting the public outrage created by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Now, Hadiya’s story has reached the White House.

Asked about a petition posted on the White House’s “We the People” website, calling on President Obama and his family attend Pendleton’s funeral in their hometown of Chicago, spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that he hadn’t heard about the signature gathering effort, but that “the president and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton.”

Pendleton was shot to death Tuesday as she and a group of friends stood beneath a bus shelter after taking final exams at nearby King College Prep. Pendleton, a majorette in the school’s marching band, had performed with the band in Washington D.C. during Obama’s second Inaugural.

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Her death — in a neighborhood not far from the Chicago suburb where the Obamas lived prior to entering the White House — has refocused attention on the rampant gun violence in Chicago, which marked a grim milestone of 500 murders in 2012 — with 435 of those committed with guns. It has also returned the issue of urban violence to the broader discussion on gun control, which has focused on mass shootings like the ones in Newtown and Aurora, rather than the daily violence experienced in many urban centers.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city will put more than 200 additional officers on the street to try and combat violence, and he spoke passionately about Hadiya’s case, as have her family and friends this week. Hadiya’s case was also brought up during Senate hearings on gun control — mentioned by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport.