Sandra Parks wrote an essay about gun violence at the age of 11, titled Our Truth, for a writing contest. The essay spoke about the violence occurring in her neighborhood in Milwaukee. Tragically, two years later, at 13 years old, Sandra was killed by a bullet fired into her home.
In the essay, Sandra wrote: “We are in a state of chaos. In a city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.” She spoke of the bad choices and hatred of people, which leads to the violence she was exposed to in her community. She spoke of the depression she felt from black on black crime and how she tried to escape from it through music.
According to her mother, Bernice Parks, Sandra was alone in her bedroom on Monday. A stray bullet, apparently not fired at anyone specifically, was shot into the house and hit her in the chest. She died that night from her wounds. Bernice stated that she woke to the sound of gunfire around 8 p.m. She found her daughter on the floor, bleeding from her chest. Sandra told her mother, “Momma, I’m shot. Call the police.”
“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,” her mother told reporters.
Two men were arrested in connection with the shooting. 26-year-old Isaac Barnes and 27-year-old Untrell Oden. The two were on their way home from the store and Barnes opened fire for no reason, and at no one.
An ex-girlfriend of Barnes directed police to look for them, as she believed Barnes was involved in the incident. She had seen Barnes earlier, saying he was armed with a rifle and wearing a mask. After a search in the neighborhood, police located the two men hidden in a house not far from the Parks residence. The found both an AK-47 rifle and handgun. The shell casings found near the Parks home were fired from the handgun.
Barnes has been charged with reckless homicide in the first degree, and both men face charges for possession of illegal firearms, as they are both convicted felons.
In a statement to reporters, Mayor Tom Barrett said, “Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house, and she’s dead. A 13-year-old, on Thanksgiving week, on a school night, in her bedroom, and she died.” He expressed that they were unsure why Barnes decided to open fire. “All we know is that a 13-year-old died last night in her bedroom.”
Many friends, neighbors and relatives gathered at the Parks’ residence on Tuesday for a vigil and to offer prayers for Sandra. Sandra was an eighth grader with dreams of pursuing writing in college.