Girl who wrote essay on gun violence shot to death
Milwaukee teen dies from bullet fired from street
Sandra Parks knew too much about death, even at a young age.
“We are in a state of chaos. In a city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost everyday. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence,” Sandra wrote two years ago about gun violence in her Milwaukee neighborhood.
Sandra called her essay “Our Truth” — a sobering reminder that, as she said, people’s poor choices and hatred have led to so much violence. She wrote about trying to escape from the chaos, from the “black on black crime” that depressed her. Sometimes she would put on her headphones, she wrote, and let the music take her away.
But she couldn’t escape from it.
Sandra, 13, was in her bedroom when a bullet fired from a gun outside, aimed at no one in particular, pierced a hole through her home and landed in her chest, officials said.
“Momma, I’m shot,” she told her mother.
Sandra, the girl who called for peace and empathy, died Monday night.
“Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house, and she’s dead,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Investigators have not said why gunshots were fired at the home, a few miles north of downtown Milwaukee.
Bernice Parks, Sandra’s mother, told police she was awakened by gunshots shortly before 8 p.m., according to a criminal complaint cited by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She saw her daughter bleeding on the floor.
“She said, ‘Momma, I’m shot. Call the police,’ ” Parks told Fox affiliate WITI, her voice breaking as she sobbed. “I looked at her. She didn’t cry. She wasn’t hollering. She was just so peaceful . ... She didn’t deserve to leave this world like that.”
Police arrested Isaac Barnes, 26, and Untrell Oden, 27. They were walking home from a store when Barnes began to fire at no one in particular, Oden told detectives, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Authorities said Barnes’s ex-girlfriend told a police officer that she suspected he was involved in the shooting. She was parked on a street near Sandra’s home when Barnes, masked and armed with a rifle, approached her, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“You lucky the kids are in the car. I was going to fan you down,” Barnes said, the woman told police.
Officers searched the neighborhood and found Barnes and Oden hiding in a house a few blocks away. An AK-47 rifle was in a bedroom, and a handgun had been thrown in a kitchen trash can. Authorities say four shell casings found outside Sandra’s home were fired from the handgun, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Barnes is charged with first-degree reckless homicide with a dangerous weapon and endangering safety. He and Oden, both felons, are also charged with illegal possession of a gun.
In 2016, Milwaukee Public Schools held an essay contest about Martin Luther King Jr. Sandra, then a sixth-grader, took third place. She chose to write about gun violence because the world had failed to live up to the civil rights leader’s dream, she said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio.
“The world that we have become now is, like, that all you hear about is somebody dying and somebody getting shot, and people do not just think about whose father, son or granddaughter or grandson that was that you just killed,” Sandra said.
The teen, who was in eighth grade when she died, had hoped to go to college to be a writer, her mother wrote in a GoFundMe page set up to help the family pay for memorial services.
“I never felt so lost,” Bernice Parks wrote on Facebook. “My chest feels like a (boulder) is smashing down on my heart. I need peace. I lost my love.”
Bernice Parks, left, is consoled by Jasmine Wells, the godmother to Sandra Parks, on Tuesday in Milwaukee. Sandra Parks, 13, was killed Monday in her bedroom.