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First Lady To Attend Hadiya Pendleton Funeral

Hadiya Pendleton was shot to death just days after a visit to Washington, D.C. for President Obama's second inauguration

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Hadiya Pendleton was shot to death blocks from her school and about a mile from the president and first lady's Chicago home. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

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First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Chicago on Saturday and attend the funeral of a 15-year-old girl gunned down last week in Chicago, the White House confirmed Friday.

She is not expected to speak, sources told NBC Chicago.

Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will also make the trip from Washington, D.C. to attend the service at the Calahan Funeral Home on the 7000 block of South Halsted Street.

"That's a step in the right direction," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Thursday. "Their coming give us a sense that somebody at the highest levels of government cares, and that is a big deal."

Hundreds of people began filing in for the visitation this morning, which began at 9 a.m. Lines continue to stretch out the church doors and down the street.

The funeral service is set to start around 11 a.m.

Pendleton was killed last Tuesday at Kenwood Park on the city's South Side days after she performed at some of President Barack Obama's recent inauguration festivities. She was shot to death blocks from her school and about a mile from the president's and first lady's Chicago home.

"After all, this is in her neighborhood. This is less than a mile from the First Lady's house, and her children must walk these same streets, and so I'm sure that Michelle is acutely sensitive to just how close this is to her own family," Jackson said.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he believes Michelle Obama's visit "is rightfully bringing attention to the problems that every urban center in this country is experiencing every single day."

The reward leading to Pendleton's killer stands at $40,000.

A petition was started asking that Obama attend the funeral. Unconfirmed reports earlier this week said Michelle Obama had considered attending.

The Pendleton family's pastor confirmed the president called Hadiya's parents to offer his sympathies.

"We thank him for that, and if he does come, that's fine," Pastor Courtney Maxwell said. "If he doesn't, we know he sends his love."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also will attend the funeral, set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, at 5141 S. State St.
 

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