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Police charge 2 men in Hadiya Pendleton murder

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Micheail Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, have been charged in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, according to Chicago police.

Ward, of the 300-block of W. 59th St., and Williams, of the 3900-block of S. Lake Park Ave., were both charged with first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery/discharge of a firearm, police said.

Police said Ward has confessed to firing the fatal shots. Williams allegedly drove the getaway car. Both are alleged gang members.

Chicago Police Department Superintendent announced the charges at a press conference at 7:30 p.m. Monday. He was surrounded by a small army of detectives and gang investigators who helped break the case as he spoke.

"They were attempting to retalliate for a previous shooting where Williams was shot in July...In that shooting we made an arrest but Williams refused to prosecute that arrest," McCarthy said.

Ward mistook Hadiya's group for a rival gang even though none of the teens had any gang affiliations, McCarthy said.

Ward was arrested in January 2011 for unlawful use of weapon, according to McCarthy. But Illinois doesn't have mandatory minimum sentences and he was given probation and not put in jail, he said.

"Let me put it this way: Michael Ward would not have been on the streets of New York City to commit this act if it happened there. I don't know how to make it any clearer," McCarthy said.

Police have not yet recovered gun used in murder, they said. The break came when CPD realized getaway car involved in previous traffic stop.

According to police, the arrests took place early Sunday morning. Witnesses to the shooting were brought in throughout the day Sunday.

The arrests came one day after Hadiya's funeral. A police spokesperson says the men were arrested early Sunday morning after being pulled over near 67th and South Chicago Avenue, adding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel personally called Hadiya's parents to let them know.

"The mayor has been very comforting to our family," Wilks said.

A sophomore at King College Prep, Hadiya was shot and killed in Kenwood just days after performing at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Her story has attracted so much attention, first lady Michelle Obama was among those in attendance at Saturday's service. And Sunday, the White House announced the president will bring the gun violence debate to Chicago next Friday.

"We can't have too many conversations about it, you can't overdo it. I think it's great," said Wilks. "We didn't want her to die in vain. We want to keep her name out there to remind people."

"Some people like to put a face to crime. But for me, that won't bring Hadiya back," said Ted Phipps, Kenwood.

"I hope it's the right thing to do in regards to the community, don't think there will ever be any relief as long as the gun situation's here, the way they get these guns," said Yahnahton Israel.

Meanwhile Cleopatra Cowley, the mother of slain 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, will attend the State of the Union. She was invited by Congressman Brad Schneider but will be sitting with first lady Michelle Obama.

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