2 men charged in Chicago teen’s murder

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Two young men are charged in the shooting death of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton.

Kenneth Williams, 20, and Micheail Ward, 18, are both charged with first degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm. They are due in bond court Tuesday morning.

Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the motive for the shooting was retaliation. The suspects were trying to get back at rival gang members for shooting Williams in July, but they targeted the wrong group, said McCarthy.

“Micheail Ward confessed,” said McCarthy. “Hadiya was not the intended target.”

On Jan. 29th, Hadiya was at Harsh Park with several teens huddled under an awning to escape the rain. Police say the gunman hopped a fence and opened fire. Hadiya was fatally shot. Two other teens were injured.

The sophomore at King College Prep had recently performed in Washington D.C. at events for President Obama’s inauguration. Her death focused national attention on Chicago’s gun violence.

Williams and Ward were pulled over near 67th and King Dr. late Saturday night. Despite a $40,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, police say people with useful information about the shooting did not come forward. McCarthy said aggressive police work and surveillance led investigators to the suspects.

Earlier Saturday, Hadiya was laid to rest. Hundreds of people, including First Lady Michelle Obama, packed a Southside church for the funeral.

Hadiya’s parents were invited to attend President Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday. The President plans to return to Chicago on Friday to address gun violence.

Ward is currently on probation for a previous weapons conviction. McCarthy called this case another example of why Illinois needs mandatory minimum sentencing for illegal weapons charges.