Almost two weeks after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in a Southside park, police have charged two men in death of the teen.
Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, are charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the attack that killed Hadiya and left 2 other teens injured.
According to police, Ward confessed that the shooting was retaliation against a group they mistakenly thought were rival gang members. He told police they believed the group were the ones responsible for shooting and injuring Williams last summer.
Williams was shot on July 12 at Pershing Road and Lake Park Avenue, just blocks from Harsh Park where Hadiya and her friends became open targets.
The group of teens had just finished taking final exams at King College Prep, 4445 S. Drexel, and was seeking shelter from heavy rain under a canopy in the park.
The pair was en route to a birthday celebration at club in Harvey Saturday night, when they were arrested in separate cars; just hours after Hadiya had been laid to rest.
The Pendletons received phone calls from Mayor Rahm Emanuel with word of the arrests and the charges that were filed. Hadiya’s family has been in Washington D.C. since Sunday with Cleo Pendleton who has been invited to attend the President’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.
“I am happy that the murderer of Hadiya is now off the streets,” said Hadiya’s mother, Cleo Cowley-Pendleton while speaking to television news outlets after she had learned of the charges.
Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy credited police officers’ hard work – not the tips from witnesses – in capturing the offenders.
Both men are said to be members of Gangster Disciples. Ward, who has been identified as the gunman in the fatal attack, was arrested back in 2011 for unlawful use of a firearm.
The charges come on the same day that Mayor Emanuel, police officials and Cook County legislators discussed tougher penalties for those who break gun laws.