NPR : Tell Me More

Filed Under:

Pain Is 'Indescribable' For Gun Victim Pendleton's Mother

Play associated audio

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton was leading a meeting at work last month when she got a phone call any mother would call horrific. Her 15-year-old daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, had been shot while with friends on Chicago's South Side.

"I went into temporary shock, I grabbed my nearest coworker ... [and said] 'Help me understand what they're saying, because clearly they're not talking about my baby,'" she tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More. When she got to the hospital, a nurse told her Pendleton had died.

Hadiya Pendleton was shot just days after traveling to Washington, D.C., to participate in festivities surrounding President Obama's inauguration. Her death made national headlines, adding fuel to calls for stricter gun control and focusing attention on Chicago, where more than 500 people were killed last year.

But, Cowley-Pendleton says, the Chicago neighborhood wasn't the problem. "It wasn't that she was in a bad neighborhood and you would expect this bad crime to occur. She was in the right place, doing the right thing, and it was just a bad guy in the wrong place," she says.

This week, Cowley-Pendleton was a guest of the first lady at the State of the Union address. In calling on Congress to vote on his gun control plan, the president mentioned Pendleton, who was shot just a mile away from his Chicago house. Cowley-Pendleton said being there was difficult "because all you want is your baby back. But the reality is, you can't ... So to have someone as large as the president talk about your baby, it's an honor. It's an absolute honor."

When asked what should be done to curb gun violence, she says she still has a lot of reading and research to do about gun policy. But she says the country needs to start thinking about penalties for gun offenders that would make them think twice about their actions.

Cowley-Pendleton says her job now is to keep talking about her daughter's story, in hopes of informing the public debate and preventing future tragedies.

"Hadiya's been murdered. She's been buried now. But the pain — this pain — is indescribable. ... I would never, never want anyone to feel this pain. It's irrecoverable."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.