Michelle Obama to attend funeral of teen shot dead weeks after inauguration performance
Family welcome the first lady's appearance
Michelle Obama will today attend the funeral of the 15-year-old Chicago girl shot dead less than two weeks after performing at President Obama's inauguration celebrations.
The girl's family welcome the first lady's appearance, but are keen to keep politics out of the service.
Mrs Obama will join other well-known political figures from the city, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
Hadiya Pendleton appeared as a majorette in the King College Prep school drill team at the inauguration in Washington DC.
She was shot last month while with friends in Kenwood Park, on the city's notorious South Side, only a mile from the president's home.
A man opened fire on the group, and Pendleton was shot in the back as she tried to escape.
Police believe the gunman was a gang member aiming for a turf rival, and that Pendleton- who once appeared in an anti-gang video- had no part in any feud.
A 16-year-old boy was also shot in the attack, but survived.
No charges have yet been filed.
The bereaved family says the funeral will have nothing to do with politics, even though the shooting added further urgency to the country's furious gun control debate, which was pushed back onto the agenda with last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The death also brought new attention to Chicago’s homicide rate, coming in the city’s deadliest January for a decade. In 2012, Chicago recorded 506 homicides.
And Governor Quinn mentioned Pendleton’s death in his State of the State address earlier this week, calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The teen’s pastor and brother will speak at the service, and the college drill team will perform.
“Everything is about Hadiya,” said Shatira Wilks, who was Pendleton’s cousin, on behalf of the family.
Describing the bereaved parents as "miserable," she said: "We want her to be remembered as the walking angel that she is."
"She was the best kid a parent could ask for. She was the face of what all parents desire in a wonderful child."
Of the first lady's appearance, Wilks said: "She's not being intrusive. It's not about her being seen.
"She's really, really a concerned individual, and I think the best gesture that they could have done was to come out and support Hadiya, my cousin, as Hadiya supported the president during the inauguration."
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