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911 calls released in Hadiya Pendleton shooting

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The frantic 911 calls that came the night Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down in a Chicago park were released Monday, and they included a key description of the shooter.

"I just heard shots fired, 44th and Oakenwald. A male black in a blue jacket about 5-8 just went ... northbound on Oakenwald," an anonymous caller said. "In a white Nissan. He's a passenger. He had a blue jacket, he was just shooting in the alley."

Several calls to 911 the afternoon of Jan. 29 were pierced with screaming in the background. One caller described six shots fired in the area and a little girl on the ground.

That girl, a 15-year-old King College Prep High School majorette, would become a symbol for local violence and the nation's debate over gun safety.


Pendleton was shot in the back days after she performed at President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities in Washington. She was with a group of friends at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when shots rang out.

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Two weeks later, Michaeil Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were charged with first-degree murder in Pendleton's death. The description given in one of multiple 911 calls that night gave police their first leads.

Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Ward confessed to being the shooter, telling police Pendleton was not his intended target. McCarthy said the shooting was in retaliation for a shooting last July that left Williams injured.

"They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang," McCarthy said. "Instead, it was a group of upstanding and determined kids, who, like Hadiya, were repulsed by the gang lifestyle."

First Lady Michelle Obama went to Pendleton's funeral and President Obama has invoked the girl in several of his addresses, including one at a South Side Chicago school

"Unfortunately what happened to Hadiya is not unique," Obama said, calling for "commonsense" reforms. "It's not unique to Chicago. It's not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us."

Pendleton's parents, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton, attended the State of the Union address. Most recently a bill called Hadiya's Law was proposed by Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk that would crack down on so-called straw purchasing.

Related: Two charged with murder in Hadiya Pendleton shooting