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Two charged with murder in Hadiya Pendleton shooting

Chicago Police Department

Kenneth Williams (left) and Michael Ward (right) were charged Monday in the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton

Two suspects have been charged in last month’s shooting death of a 15-year-old Chicago girl who performed at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, police announced Monday night.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, each face one count of first-degree murder for the death of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot two weeks ago in a park near her school, just days after returning from Washington, D.C., officials said. The two also face attempted first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm for the attack that left two other teens wounded.

Ward was the shooter and confessed to police that Hadiya was not the intended target, police said. The shooting was allegedly meant to be a retaliation for Williams, who was shot last year.

Reached by phone Monday evening, Hadiya’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley, said she was “ecstatic” about the arrests and urged for the young  men to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Look at what they've done to me and my family. We put so much work into raising my daughter. We had hopes. My son no longer has a big sister. They deserve to feel something that is remotely comparable,” Cowley told NBC News. “But my daughter is dead and even if they are rotting in jail, they will still be alive.”  

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy called Hadiya’s family “rocks in supporting us in this investigation.” During the press conference he said he hopes the high-profile murder will lead to meaningful change in the city’s gun law.

He also stressed that it wasn't tips from the community that led to the arrests, but rather relentless detective work.

“This was one of the most methodical, practical investigations that I can remember,” said McCarthy.

Since her death, Hadiya has become one of the faces of the Obama administration’s efforts to reform the nation’s gun laws. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the teenager’s funeral Saturday, and Cowley has been invited to attended Tuesday’s State of the Union.

“My baby deserves a revolution and I pray that what happened her to her will have an impact,” she said.

Chicago police announce the arrest, and charges, against two men in the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton. Police also confirm that the shooter mistook the teens for gang members.