CHICAGO -- A 15-year-old who performed in President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities is the latest face on the ever-increasing homicide toll in the president's hometown.

Hadiya Pendleton was killed in a South Side park about a mile from Obama's home as she talked with friends, though the gunman apparently was not aiming at her. Police said he opened fire on the group Tuesday afternoon and Pendleton was hit in the back as she tried to escape.

The city's 42nd slaying this month adds to Chicago's bloodiest January in more than a decade. It also came as Obama, spurred by the Connecticut elementary school massacre in December, is actively pushing for tougher gun laws.

Pendleton's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, spoke Wednesday at a police news conference.

"He took the light of my life," he said. He then spoke directly to the killer, who remains at large: "Look at yourself, just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a nonviolent person."

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Hadiya Pendleton was a majorette with the King College Prep band.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the gunman may be a member of a gang that considers the park its turf and mistook someone in the group as being from a rival gang.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the president and the first lady's "thoughts and prayers are with" the teen's family. -- AP