"So many children out there are in gangs, and it is your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great future."
Speaking in an anti-gang PSA, Hadiya Pendleton's words to her peers were once hopeful but now haunting in light of the 15-year-old's shooting death at a Chicago park Tuesday.
The video posted in 2008 by the Digital Youth Network features another student with Pendleton whose words are just as chilling.
"So many children in the world have died from gang violence," the girl says. "More than 500 children have died from being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy echoed the exact words speaking on Pendleton's tragic death.
“Every indication points to the fact that none of the individuals in the group were involved in any sort of criminal activity,” McCarthy said at a Wednesday news conference according to the Sun-Times. “These were good kids by everything that I learned... Wrong place at the wrong time.”
Described by her father, Nathaniel Pendleton, as "the light of my life," the 15-year-old was killed just a week after performing in an inauguration event for President Barack Obama in the nation's capitol.
The teen reportedly bought a commemorative cup for her father at the inauguration, but was killed before she was able to give it to him, said the Sun-Times.
DNAinfo Chicago reports the majorette dancer and volleyball player at King College Prep had just taken her final exams when she and her friends were caught in the rain and tried to take shelter under a canopy at a nearby park. Pendleton was shot in the back when a gunman climbed a fence near the park and opened fire on the group.
Chicago Police Officer Damon Stewart, Hadiya’s godfather, told the Sun-Times after the shooting, “As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy... He hits the one that hurts the most to lose.”
A $11,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of Pendleton's killer. (UPDATE: The reward has been increased to $24,000.)
Pendleton's family and friends are sharing details on Hadiya's life, hopes and loves, which is not often the case for many slain on Chicago's streets. Pendleton's heartbreaking death has struck a chord nationally, and just Wednesday, a petition was started that urges President Obama to attend the girl's funeral.
Though the petitioners have until March 1 to garner the 100,000 signatures required for a response (quadruple the previous requirement of 25,000), Pendleton's funeral will likely be held before then, though the family has yet to release plans.