One week ago, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton performed with her high school band here in Washington at President Obama’s inauguration. In addition to being a majorette, Pendleton was also an honor student and volleyball player who dreamed of visiting Paris this summer.
On Tuesday, she was shot dead in a public park two blocks from her high school and less than a mile from Obama’s Kenwood home in Chicago. The shooting prompted White House spokesman Jay Carney to remark, “If we can save even one child’s life, we have an obligation to try when it comes to the scourge of gun violence.”
Pendleton was the 44th homicide victim in Chicago so far this year. That puts Chicago on pace to surpass last year’s total of more than 500 murders. Chicago homicides have picked up dramatically in recent years and now outnumber killings in New York, which has three times Chicago’s population. Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, fewer people were killed in 2012 than in any year since the 1960s. During a nine-day stretch this month, not a single New Yorker was murdered. Here in Washington, there have been only four murders so far in 2013. That’s down 33 percent from the same period last year, when the city had the fewest killings in 50 years.