13-year old dies in shooting, two years after her anti-gun essay won awards

On Monday night 13-year old Sandra Parks was shot dead in her home in Milwaukee. Two years previously she had written an essay detailing gun violence in her home town, which had won third place in the Milwaukee Public Schools’ annual Martin Luther King Jr contest.

Her mother, Bernice Parks, explained that she had gone to bed early, leaving her children watching TV, but woke to the sound of gunshots. She found her daughter on the floor, bleeding. 911 was called, but Sandra died at the scene.

In January 2017, Sandra had spoken on Wisconsin Public Radio, saying that she wanted to “stop all the violence and … negativity that’s going on”.

“All you hear about is somebody dying and somebody getting shot. People do not just think about whose father or son or granddaughter or grandson was just killed.” 

Sandra Parks
Sandra Parks won 3rd place for this essay about gun violence in her home town

Two men have been arrested in connection to the incident, with Isaac Barnes charged with homicide, and Untrell Oden facing two counts of helping to safeguard two guns.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett described the situation as “insanity”. He speculated that the shooter may have wanted to “settle a score, express anger, [or] try to scare someone”.

“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.”

Mayor Tom Barrett
Bernice Parks is consoled following the death of her 13-year old daughter Sandra

Milwaukee Public Schools have said that Sandra is the seventh child at a district school to be murdered in 2018. Bernice acknowledged this toll outside her home at a vigil that was being held.

“I understand that there was a lot of kids that passed away recently and I wouldn’t say that my baby was better than the rest.


“But God, Jesus, Lord have mercy…


“Lord have mercy knows, she was a star that was trying to get out, but she didn’t know how.”

Bernice Parks

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