Murder of Hadiya Pendleton

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Murder of Hadiya Pendleton
Vivian Gordon Harsh Park
DateJanuary 29, 2013; 9 years ago (2013-01-29)
LocationKenwood, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Coordinates41°48′51″N 87°35′44″W / 41.81405°N 87.59556°W / 41.81405; -87.59556Coordinates: 41°48′51″N 87°35′44″W / 41.81405°N 87.59556°W / 41.81405; -87.59556
CauseMistaken Gang Rivalry
OutcomeDeath of Hadiya Pendleton
Deaths1 (Hadiya Pendleton)
Non-fatal injuries2
SuspectsMichael Ward, Kenneth Williams
ChargesFirst degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm

The murder of Hadiya Pendleton occurred on January 29, 2013. Pendleton, a 15-year-old Black girl from Chicago, Illinois, was shot in the back and killed while standing with friends inside Harsh Park in Kenwood, Chicago after taking her final exams.[1] As a student at King College Prep High School, she was killed only one week after performing at events for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral for Pendleton in Chicago.[2]

President Obama mentioned Pendleton's death in his 2013 State of the Union Address in Congress, where Pendleton's parents, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr., attended as guests.[3] The crime scene is "just a mile away from [President Obama's] Chicago house".[4]

Pendleton's mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, went onstage but did not speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[5]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Two suspects, Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were arrested and indicted with multiple counts of first degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a weapon and many other charges. They told police that Pendleton was not the intended target. The group she was standing with was mistaken for members of a rival gang.[6] A judge denied bail for the two gang members.[7]

At the time of the shooting, Ward, the gunman, was on probation. In January 2012, he pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and was sentenced to two years of probation. Less than three months later, he was arrested and charged with breaking into a car. In July 2012, he was arrested for breaking into a different vehicle. In November 2012, he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing. During his youth, he had also been arrested numerous times on charges ranging from robbery to battery to marijuana possession, and had spent time on juvenile probation.[8]

Ward and Williams were each charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm. The trial started on August 14, 2018.[9] On August 22, 2018, a jury found Williams guilty of first degree murder of Pendleton. Williams was also found guilty of aggravated battery to her friends, Sebastian Moore and Lawrence Sellers.[10] On August 23, 2018, a jury found Ward guilty of first degree murder in the death of Pendleton.[11] Ward was sentenced to 84 years in prison on January 14, 2019. On July 20, 2021, Williams was sentenced to 42 years in prison, 35 for the murder and seven for the aggravated battery.[12]


In the song "Jonylah Forever", rapper Lupe Fiasco presents an alternate reality where Jonylah Watkins, who was murdered by gun violence at the age of 6 months in Chicago, grew to be a doctor and met Hadiya Pendleton who grew to be an artist in Chicago. The song is featured on the album Drogas Wave.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Don Babwin (January 31, 2013). "Hadiya Pendleton Dead: Chicago Teen Who Performed At Inaugural Events Fatally Shot". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Gary Younge (February 9, 2013). "Michelle Obama attending Chicago funeral of Hadiya Pendelton". Guardian. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  3. ^ Parsons, Christi (February 11, 2013). "Hadiya Pendleton's parents to attend State of the Union address". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "Pain Is 'Indescribable' For Gun Victim Pendleton's Mother". NPR. February 14, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  5. ^ "Chicago mothers who lost children ask DNC for police reform, gun control". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Connor, Tracy; Rafferty, Andrew (February 11, 2013). "Two charged with murder in Hadiya Pendleton shooting". NBC news. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Accused Hadiya Pendleton killers denied bail". CBS News. February 12, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Alleged gunman in Hadiya Pendleton slaying was on probation for weapons conviction, Chicago Tribune, February 12, 2013
  9. ^ "Hadiya Pendleton trial recap: First day of testimony marked by dramatic accounts". Chicago Tribune.
  10. ^ Hope, Leah; Horng, Eric (August 22, 2018). "Kenneth Williams found guilty in Hadiya Pendleton murder trial; Ward trial continues". ABC7. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Horng, Eric; Hickey, Megan (August 23, 2018). "Mickiael Ward found guilty in Hadiya Pendleton murder trial". ABC7. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Getaway driver in Hadiya Pendleton slaying sentenced to 42 years in prison, Chicago Tribune, July 20, 2021