By Katherine Skiba, Chicago Tribune reporter
March 29, 2013
— Minutes after suspects in the killing of Hadiya Pendleton were arraigned Thursday in Chicago, the 15-year-old's mother attended a speech by President Barack Obama in the White House with 20 other women who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton said in an interview afterward that it was an honor to stand with the president in the East Room as he called on Congress to act on gun-control measures.
"It's a tough issue, and it needs to be discussed," she said, "and there are some laws that need to be put in place around these tragedies that are happening."
Obama met with her and some of the others in a small group before his formal remarks, she said. He told them "how serious this issue really is and something needs to be done about it," she said.
In his formal remarks, the president misstated a detail about Hadiya's death. He said the teen was "killed on her way to school." In fact, the school day was over on Jan. 29 when she and her friends went to Harsh Park in North Kenwood, where she was shot.
The misstatement was the second by the first family on the slaying. First lady Michelle Obama, speaking Feb. 26 on ABC's "Good Morning America," incorrectly stated that the girl was killed by an automatic weapon.
Police have not recovered the weapon that killed Hadiya. A day after the slaying, Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the gunman probably used a revolver because no bullet casings were found at the shooting scene — as there would be if a semi-automatic or automatic weapon had been used.
Hadiya's brother, Nathaniel Jr., 10, also attended the White House event, watching from a front-row seat as the president spoke near his mother. Hadiya's mother and brother plan to be back at the White House on Monday for the annual Easter Egg Roll, along with other relatives of Hadiya.
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