Even as Hadiya Pendleton's parents attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday in Washington D.C., they said they will never accept what was done to their little girl and their family.
Two reputed gang members were charged Monday with the murder of the 15-year-old honor roll student who had performed in Obama's inauguration festivities days before her death.
Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were both charged with first-degree murder and two counts of battery with a firearm. Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Ward confessed to being the shooter, telling police that Pendleton was not his intended target.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel phoned Nathaniel Pendleton and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton while they were having dinner at a D.C. restaurant with their family to give them the news of the charges.
"Kudos to Chicago PD," Pendleton's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said. "You did a great job. ... You kept us involved. Thank you."
"I'm happy that the murderer of Hadiya is now off the street," her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, said. "I look forward and I hope they are convicted to the fullest extent of the law, and I'm going to be in court every day."
Pendleton's parents said they will fight and follow this case until justice is done. Cowley-Pendleton said there's no such thing as closure.
"I want them to be a poster child for every criminal to say 'I don't want to be this guy,'" Nathaniel Pendleton said. "These guys are terrible."
"This family is not the family to let criminals do what they want to do," Cowley-Pendleton said. "No, we're going to do what we have to do."
The Pendletons are a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union speech. The first lady attended Pendleton's funeral on Saturday along with hundreds of friends, family and classmates.
Obama on Friday will travel to Chicago to speak about the economy and for a series of meetings on gun violence.