13-year-old schoolgirl who had penned award-winning essay on gun violence shot and killed by stray bullet in bedroom

Sandra Parks was hit by a stray bullet in her home in Milwaukee and died before emergency responders could help her


                            13-year-old schoolgirl who had penned award-winning essay on gun violence shot and killed by stray bullet in bedroom

A 13-year-old schoolgirl who had penned an award-winning essay on gun violence in her hometown just two years ago has been killed after she was hit by a stray bullet inside her bedroom. Sandra Parks died at her home in Milwaukee after she was struck once in the upper right flank. According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, her mother Bernice Parks had gone to bed early but woke up on the sound gunshots ringing out at around 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, November 15, hearing Sandra yell "I'm shot, I'm shot."

She saw the 13-year-old bleeding out on the floor and called 911, but emergency responders were unable to save the teen. Police reported two others were caught in the crossfire that erupted outside — one on a school playground, and the other in his own yard. Detectives found four empty casings in the street in front of the house, as well as four bullet house in the house.

The eighth-grader has become a part of an unfortunate statistic: she is at least the fifth Milwaukee child who has been fatally shot inside their home in the last four years by gunfire from the outside. What's even more tragic is that just two years ago, when she was in the sixth grade, Sandra had penned an award-winning essay about the violence that plagued many Milwaukee neighborhoods.

In the essay, the student of Keefe Avenue School had called for more empathy and less negativity, writing, "We shall overcome has been lost in lies of who we are. Who we have become. 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 it into action."

The Daily Mail reported she had also written about a world where "little children are victims of senseless gun violence" and "there is too much black-on-black crime." She had written poignantly, "Sometimes, 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."

Barnes (left) and Oden (right) have been charged in the killing (Source: Milwaukee Police Department)
Barnes (left) and Oden (right) have been charged in the killing (Source: Milwaukee Police Department)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that 26-year-old Isaac D. Barnes and 27-year-old Untrell Oden, both of whom have previously done time in prison for armed robbery, were arrested and charged in connection to Sandra's death. The pair were apprehended after a police officer responding to the scene bumped into Barnes' ex-girlfriend, who said the 26-year-old was probably involved in the shooting. She said she was parked on North 12th Street earlier when Barnes approached her with "an assault-style rifle" and told her he planned to shoot her and her kids down.

Authorities were soon combing the area, with detectives and tactical officers finding Barnes and Oden in a house a couple of blocks away with an "AK-47-style piston" in the kitchen and an "AK-47-style rifle" in a bedroom. After test-firing both weapons, they concluded that the casings found outside Sandra's home were fired from the AK-47-style handgun. Barnes reportedly faces counts of first-degree reckless homicide with a dangerous weapon, endangering safety, and being a felon with a gun, while Oden is named in two counts of being a felon with a gun.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by the Parks family to raise donations to cover the 13-year-old's memorial services. It has raised $7,355 of a possible $20,000 goal at the time of writing.