Our condolences go out to the family of Sandra Parks, 13, who was killed Monday by a stray bullet that entered her home.
Two years ago, Parks wrote an award-winning essay about the constant shootings plaguing her hometown of Milwaukee, and the emotional toll they have on young people like herself.
“Little children are victims of senseless gun violence,” she wrote. ” … I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. When I do; I come to the same conclusion … we are in a state of chaos.”
On Monday, a stray bullet shattered Sandra’s bedroom window, and her mother found her bleeding on the living room floor.
“She just walked in the room and said, ‘Mama, I’m shot’ … The bullet wasn’t even for her,” said her sister Tatiana Ingram.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett described “the insanity” of gun violence affecting our communities across the United States.
“Sandra Parks … went into her bedroom. She never came out alive,” Barrett said at a press conference. “Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house and she’s dead.”
Issac Barnes, 26, was charged Wednesday with the shooting after prosecutors say he was planning to shoot his ex-girlfriend, an acquaintance of the family. Barnes’ ex-girlfriend said Barnes approached her wearing a black mask and “holding a large AK-47 style firearm.” He told her, “I was going to fan you down,” but didn’t because she had her kids. She was visiting her sister at a home near where Sandra Parks lived.
Prosecutors also charged 27-year-old Untrell Oden with two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, alleging that he had safeguarded two guns belonging to Barnes.
Authorities found Oden hiding inside a closet after the murder.
Parks was in eighth grade at Keefe Avenue School and wrote the heartbreaking essay in 2016 when she was in sixth grade.
“Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other,” she wrote. “We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. … We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.”
Dozens of community members gathered for a vigil outside Sandra’s home Tuesday night. Attendees held up a plaque with her essay as they considered her message against gun violence.
Sandra’s mother, Bernice Parks, said her daughter constantly spoke out against violence. “My baby was not violent. My baby did not like violence,” she said.
Sandra even appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio last year where she said she picked the topic of violence for her essay because of the current climate of acts of violence.
“All you hear about is somebody dying or somebody getting shot and people do not just think about whose father or son or granddaughter or grandson who it was that was just killed,” she said.