Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chokes up as he talks about the shooting death of 15-year-old Chicago girl

As homicide numbers continue to rise, Emanuel calls on the city to help stop the violence.

January 30, 2013

Judith Ruiz-Branch

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was emotional on Wednesday as he talked about the shooting death of a 15-year-old Chicago honor student.

He paused several times as he described his conversation with the mother of Hadiyah Pendleton, a King College Prep freshman who was shot while she, and a group of kids,took cover from the rain under a canopy at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Pendleton was a majorette at her high school and had just returned from Washington D.C where she performed with her school’s band at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“A child going to school, who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural...” Emanuel said. “I think if anybody has any information, you are not a snitch, you’re a citizen.”

Police say there is no indication that Hadiya was the gunman's intended target in the shooting Tuesday on the South Side.

This comes after another weekend of heightened gun violence in Chicago.

On Saturday alone, seven people were killed and another six were left injured.

Last year, there were more than 500 homicides in Chicago.

So far this month, Chicago has reported 42 homicides, the highest number of homicides recorded in the month of January in more than a decade.

Mayor Emanuel said this is something he’s already working to address.

“As recently as this morning [I] was in a meeting with Gary McCarthy going over what we need to do, what differences we have to do and other tactics we have to adopt,” Emanuel said. “But it’s not just a policing issue.”

The mayor did not give specifics as to what those differences will be but said the issue of gun violence is not one that the police can solve on their own.

“It is incumbent about all of us who have a responsibility to see a stop to this and all of us are responsible,” he said.

Crime in Kenwood

Francis Palmer lives on South Oakenwald Avenue just four houses down from Harsh Park where Pendleton was shot and killed. She says it's been a quiet neighborhood ever since she moved there in 1995. But the shooting casts a negative light on the “tight-knit community.”

“We got together at Christmas time and went caroling to our neighbors up and down the street," Palmer said. "That’s how nice it is... it’s like we’re not afraid to be here.

Charles Jones was planning to move his family to Kenwood next month but now he’s having second thoughts.

“It actually does make me want to contemplate whether or not this is a nice neighborhood or not,” Jones said.

Utilizing police data, a WBEZ analysis (click to see full data breakdown) indicates that crime in the Kenwood community area is relatively low compared to high crime areas in the city.

The neighborhood has seen modest decreases in theft, car thefts and robberies. But what few shootings and homicides the neighborhood saw over the past 10 years has stayed relatively consistant in the single digit range.

Still, Jones says in the end statistics doesn’t matter. 

“It can and will happen anywhere. It will.”

 —Elliott Ramos and Angelica Robinson contributed to this report.