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Hadiya Pendleton's family: 'Just a matter of time' before killer is caught

Courtesy the Pendleton family

Hadiya Pendleton during her trip to Washington for President Obama's inauguration.

A week after Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton was shot dead, her killer is still on the loose -- but her family says they are confident they will see justice.

"It's just a matter of time when this person is turned in," said Shatira Wilks, a cousin of the 15-year-old whose death made headlines across the country, focused attention on Chicago's murder rate and became part of the national debate over gun control.

Pendleton was gunned down while hanging out with friends in a park near her well-regarded school, just days after she performed with a marching band during President Barack Obama's inaugural festivities.

Police suspect she was the innocent victim of a gang member who mistook the teens for rivals on his turf. A reward for his capture has grown by the day, and cops said tips are still coming in.

"This bounty is now $40,000," said Wilks, who is acting as the family spokeswoman while Pendleton's parents prepare for her funeral Saturday.

"I think the family member or friend of the person sheltering him is viewing it as a lottery ticket, watching it go up so quickly," she said. "And I believe that at some point, they are going to turn this person in for the money."

She said whoever raised the shooter failed society by not teaching him right from wrong and is now compounding it by letting him dodge responsibility.

"How can you allow parents to suffer like this?" she asked.

Pendleton's mother, Cleopatra Cowley, and her father, Nate "Anthony" Pendleton, are facing the nightmare of burying their only daughter this weekend. A thousand or more people are expected to attend Friday's wake and the funeral the next day.

"She has a large following in death, as well as in life," Wilks said. "And we are already seeing change in Chicago as a result of her death."

She pointed to the city's decision to remove 200 cops from desk duty and put them on the streets to fight crime and several anti-crime marches and vigils that have been held since the murder.


Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed last week. Her death is inspiring people around the country to push for change to gun laws. Hadiya's mother Cleo Cowley shares her story with Rev. Al Sharpton.