Chicago police charge two gang members in Hadiya Pendleton murder

Two days after the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiiya Pendleton, the sophomore from Chicago's King High School who was murdered while seeking shelter during a rainstorm during a half-day of school (final exams), Chicago police announced the arrest of two local youths in the crimes. The charges for both are murder (as well as other charges).

Micheail Ward mugshot. Ward is charged with actually firing the shots, one of which killed Hadiya Pendleton. Chicago police photograph.According to a press release by Chicago police issued on the evening of February 11, 2013:

"Kenneth Williams, 20, of the 3900 block of S. Lake Park Ave. and Micheail Ward, 18, of the 300 block of W. 59th St. were charged in connection with the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

"Both offenders were charged with the following and are scheduled to appear in bond court in the morning. Mugshots attached.

"First Degree Murder

2 counts of Attempt First Degree Murder

2 counts of Aggravated Battery/Discharge Firearm"

Chicago police held a press conference at 7:00 p.m. on February 11, 2013 at the department's district detective headquarters at 51st and Wentworth.

Micheail Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, each were charged tonight with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, according to Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

Hadiy Pendleton, a 10th grade student at King College Prep High School, was shot and killed on January 29, 2013 in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park a few blocks from the school, as she and several schoolmates sought shelter from the rain under a canopy. School had been dismissed early that day because the students were taking semester final exams. Two of her companions were also shot in the attack, but survived.

Kenneth Williams mugshot. Chicago police photograph.Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. He said Ward was the shooter and that Ward was attempting to retaliate against rival gang members who had shot Williams last July. “The offenders had it all wrong,” McCarthy said. “They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang. Instead, it was a group of upstanding, determined kids like Hadiya who were repulsed by the gang lifestyle.”

Chicago police arrested the two men Saturday, February 9, at about the same time of the funeral. The men were driving to a strip club, McCarthy said, to celebrate a birthday. Ward has confessed to the murder, according to McCarthy. Both men are scheduled to appear in bond court Tuesday morning, February 12, at 26th and California in Chicago.“

McCarthy said that is was the Chicago Police Department’s gang surveillance and detective work that led to a break in this case, not the $40,000 reward that had been offered. According to McCarthy, the Williams shooting had been solved, but Williams himself refused to cooperate with police as a witness and instead planned "street justice" which resulted in the killing of Pendleton.

Police have not said which gang Williams and Ward belong to.


February 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM

By: James Patrick

Suspects, GD Gang Members

Williams and Ward are GD gang members who are banging against another GD faction.

February 14, 2013 at 5:55 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Victims of the drug/gang wars

Since this story broke on the arrest of suspected killers a little more information has surfaced and has confirmed what James Patrick posted. Michael Ward and Kenneth Williams the alleged murders of Hadiya Pendleton have now been widely reported to be affiliated with the Su Wu gang faction of the Gangster Disciples and were probably hunting the 4-6 Terror faction. Williams' lawyer totally denies that his client is associated with the Su Wu faction in his comments to the media, but there is contrary evidence to that claim.

The Chicago Crime Commission, has identified 250 factions of the Gangster Disciples in the city. While from what I have seen neither of the two alleged murders of Pendleton have been charged in the past with drug crimes. None the less the Su Wu faction has video clips on the internet talking about their drug dealing. Also according to his attorney Kenneth Williams graduated from King Prep himself. Williams was shot near the very heart of the Su Wu gang's drug hub at 40th and Lake Park by a member of the 4-6 Terror faction.The shooting of Pendleton was directly related according to the police to the shooting of Williams, except that the group in the park weren't the 4-6 Terror gang. But drugs indirectly were at the heart of this killing just the same.

To bring this full circle back to drugs one only has to note the connection between drug distribution and all factions of the GDs with the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. Chicago is one of Sinaloa's most important cities, not only as a final destination for drugs but as a hub to distribute them across the U.S. At least three major Mexican cartels are fighting for control of billions of dollars worth of marijuana, cocaine and heroin in Chicago. That includes the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, so factions of the GDs are cutting deals with different drug cartels for better prices and they are also fighting over distribution rights. One important area of distribution are sales of marijuana to high school students, in the suburbs and in the city. This market alone is worth many millions of dollars. In February 2012, the Chicago police, working on a tip from the Gang Enforcement Division, seized $6 million of marijuana and cocaine on the city’s South Side. The marijuana was to be distributed by various factions of the GDs with a good amount no doubt expected to be bought by high school students including those at King College Prep and many other high schools. Simply put legalization of marijuana would take away a big profit center from both the GD factions and the Mexican drug cartels.

King Prep however has a very unique history; over a decade ago it used to be known as a violent school filled with gang activity. But when King became a selective enrollment school in 2002 and had a $24 million renovation it tried to weed out members of various gang organizations and attempted to replace them with students who were academically successful.

Substance covered this story and in fact today its back copies provide the only actual historical record of what happened. The conversion of King High into a Prep high school according to Substance forced students into Phillips, Tilden and Kenwood high schools. Substance reported that: "All three experienced additional problems, but the most dramatic were at Phillips, where rival gangs clashed in the school’s hallways."

In 1999 King H.S. was 89.8% low income and after conversion to a selective high school by 2006 the school's low income rate dropped all the way down to 52.2%. Then the percentage of low income students again began to rise so by 2010 the school was 74.5% low income, in 2012 it was still around 74% low income students.

It seems fairly obvious given the fact that Kenneth Williams graduated from King Prep that the supposed purge of gang members likely failed as did the attempt to turn King into a middle class Black high school. Part of the reason for this failure was the massive destruction of the black middle class in Chicago by the great recession and part of the reason is probably concern among black middle class parents that the community around King Prep was still rife with gang problems. Hadiya Pendleton's killing will not help in this regard.

As Substance and in particular George Schmidt has reported on over the years no CPS school is a secure island and the drug/gang wars will impact many CPS students that attend high poverty schools. But the narrative relating to the horrible killing of Hadiya Pendleton has been reduced to a discussion on gun control measures.

Mexico which is filled with daily killings as part of a drug war that extends to Chicago simply bans most of its citizens from owning or purchasing a hand gun or a so called assault rifles. Once a war like we have here or have in Mexico starts no law will stop the warriors in that struggle from getting weapons. We need to recognize the situation for what it is. Chicago has become Juarez, Mexico on the Lake. But we are in a very sad way lucky in Chicago because last year only 346 were killed, in Juarez about 2,000 were killed. It could get worse.

Rod Estvan

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