Michelle Obama expected at Hadiya Pendleton funeral today

First lady Michelle Obama is expected to attend Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral this morning at Greater Harvest Baptist Church in the Washington Park neighborhood, about two miles from where the 15-year-old girl was gunned down last month.

Hadiya was a majorette for King College Prep's band and performed during President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities just days before she was slain, shot in the back while hanging out with friends at a North Kenwood neighborhood park.

The shooter was after someone else, police said. No one is in custody.

Michelle Obama's plan to come to the funeral puts Chicago solidly in the middle of a national debate over gun violence that has polarized Congress and forced President Obama to take his gun control initiatives on the road to garner more public support.

The first lady's visit is being seen not only as a gesture of condolence to the family but as part of an effort to draw attention and support for the president's gun initiatives.

As of 7 a.m. there were already about ten people lined up outside the church, 5141 S. State St.

A hearse arrived shortly before 8 a.m. with a police escort.

Uniformed Secret Service officers, before the arrival of the 15-year-old's body, were moving people through metal detectors, though the public won't be allowed in for about an hour. 

Media and a select few others are using a separate entrance, also manned by uniformed Secret Service officers. 

City and Secret Service officers' K-9 unit dogs sniffed through camera bags before camera crews were allowed inside. 

The church is surrounded by an iron fence and all of the openings -- a pedestrian gate in the front, front and side doors to the church, and a driveway to the north  -- are guarded by city police or men in white shirts, ties and long black coats.

The early arrivals were being held outside the gate while security officers move portable barriers toward the front entrance.

Chicago police vehicles - two wagons, a handful of squads and SUVs - are guarding the outside of the church. Two more vehicles are circling the block.

Chicago police staffing the event are wearing dress blues -- a blue overcoat with pockets that allow access to the duty belt, creased navy pants, and a hat.

To the south of the church is a child-parent center and behind it, a boarded up three-story brick apartment building.

Twitter: @chicagobreaking 

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