Parents of slain Chicago teen attend State of the Union

Updated 12:20 a.m. EST Feb. 13

(CBS News) CHICAGO -- Among the First Lady's guests at the capitol Tuesday for the State of the Union address were the parents of Hadiya Pendleton. The 15-year-old honor student was shot to death, not far from the Obamas' Chicago home -- an innocent victim of the city's gang wars.

Teen's murder highlights Chicago gun violence
Hadiya Pendleton

On Tuesday, two suspects were ordered held without bail.

Chicago detectives flooded the area of the city park where Hadiya was killed last month. They were led to the suspects using surveillance video and interviews with parolees in the neighborhood. Alleged gang members, Michael Ward, 18, who police say has already confessed, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were picked up on Saturday night and charged on Monday.

"They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang. Instead, it was a group of upstanding, determined kids, who -- like Hadiya -- were repulsed by the gang lifestyle," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Hadiya's parents, invited to the State of the Union in Washington, were relieved.

Watch: Hadiya Pendleton's mother told reporters her daughter's death "cannot be in vain," below.

"I can't close the book on my child, but I am very excited that the murderers who hurt my baby have been caught," said Cleopatra Cowley, Hadiya's mother.

Ward, the alleged triggerman, has a long criminal record, but the police noted that when he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a firearm about a year ago, he was given probation and stayed free despite three subsequent arrests.

"This has to stop. Gun offenders have to do significant jail time," said McCarthy.

Tom Byrne, Chicago's chief of detectives, said Illinois' gun laws are undermined by a lack of mandatory minimum sentences for gun violations.

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"If you get caught with a gun, and there's a minimum sentencing, you're gonna be off the streets for a while," Byrne said. "You're not gonna have the opportunity, within six months of being caught with a gun, to shoot somebody else."

If convicted in this case, the two suspects could face life in prison.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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