This Teen Wrote An Award-Winning Essay About Gun Violence. Then A Stray Bullet Killed Her In Her Home.

“In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day," Milwaukee teen Sandra Parks wrote. "Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.”

“We live in a state of chaos,” wrote 13-year-old Sandra Parks two years ago in an essay that won third place in a contest honoring Martin Luther King Jr. “In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.”

On Monday evening Sandra was killed by a stray bullet. She was watching TV in her bedroom in Milwaukee.

Her mother, Bernice Parks, told police that she had gone to bed early when she woke up to gunshots around 7:45 p.m. and heard her daughter say, “I’m shot,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Sandra had been hit once in the right flank and was bleeding on the floor when her mother called 911. Emergency responders were unable to save her and she died in her home.

“She took it like a soldier,” Tatiana Ingram, her sister, told local media. “She just walked in the room and said, ‘Mama, I'm shot.’”

Isaac D. Barnes, 26, and Untrell Oden, 27, were arrested within hours of the shooting, according to the Journal Sentinel. Barnes was charged with first-degree reckless homicide, discharging of a gun into a building, and possession of a firearm by a felon on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Oden faces two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Barnes and Oden were in Sandra’s neighborhood planning to shoot Barnes’ ex-girlfriend, who was visiting her sister, the Associated Press reported. According to a complaint filed Wednesday, Barnes approached her wearing a black mask and a “large AK-47-style firearm,” she said. “I was going to fan you down,” he said to her, according to the AP, but did not end up shooting her because her children were in her parked car.

“She was everything this world was not,” said Bernice Parks of her daughter. “My baby was not violent. My baby did not like violence.”

Mike De Sisti/The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Via

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett condemned the shooting in a press conference Tuesday.

“Sandra Parks, a 13-year-old, went into her bedroom. She never came out,” Barrett said. “Tragically, her death was decided by someone who just decided to shoot bullets in their house. ... It’s part of the insanity that we see in Milwaukee, that we saw yesterday in Denver; you can name the city, the rural area, the suburb, this is occurring again and again.”

Mike De Sisti/The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Via

Bernice Parks has created a GoFundMe page to fund her daughter’s memorial services.

“She was a eight grader and had hope for going to college to be writer,” wrote Parks. “She was just a innocent child.”

Read Sandra’s entire essay here:

Our Truth

Sometimes, I sit backhand I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. I put my headphones on and let the music take me away. I move to the beat and try to think about life and what everything means. When I do, I come to the same conclusion... we are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. There is too much black on black crime. As an African-American, that makes me feel depressed. Many people have lost faith in America and its ability to be a living example of Dr. King’s dream!

The truth is faith and hope in what people can do, has been lost in the poor choices we make. We shall overcome has been lost in the lie of who we have become! So now, the real truth is, we need to rewrite our story so that faith and hope for a better tomorrow, is not only within us, but we believe it and we put into actions.

Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we begin to understand and accept each other. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments people make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.

Our second truth is that we need to have purpose. We are the future generation, therefore we must have an education to make a positive difference in the world. We are the future leaders, but if we don’t have an education, we will accomplish nothing. We will overcome, when we use our education to make the world a better place. We will become the next President, law enforcement officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law makers. We cannot continue to put the responsibility on other people. It is our responsibility as future leaders!

We must not allow the lies of violence, racism, and prejudice to be our truth. The truth begins with us. Instead of passing each other like ships in the night, we must fight until our truths stretch to the ends of the world.

Skip to footer