The Slatest

Girl Who Wrote Essay About “Senseless Gun Violence” Killed by Stray Bullet in Milwaukee

Police officers stand guard as crowds gather for a second night near the BP gas station that was burned after an officer-involved killing August 14, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Police officers stand guard as crowds gather for a second night near the BP gas station that was burned after an officer-involved killing August 14, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Darren Hauck/Getty Images

In sixth grade, Sandra Parks reflected on gun violence and crime in her hometown of Milwaukee for an essay contest. And the judges were apparently so moved by her words that they awarded her third place in the school district’s 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. “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,” she wrote. “Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.”

On Monday night, she became the latest victim of that “senseless” violence when she was sitting inside her home around 8 p.m. and was struck by a stray bullet. “She took it like a soldier,” her sister, Tatiana Ingram, told local ABC affiliate WISN. “She just walked in the room and said, ‘Mama, I’m shot’ … The bullet wasn’t even for her.”

Sandra spoke to Wisconsin Public Radio about her essay in January 2017, saying she chose to focus on violence because “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.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett mourned Parks, saying it reflected the “insanity” of gun violence. “Sandra Parks … went into her bedroom. She never came out alive,” Barrett said at a news conference. “Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house and she’s dead.” The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office charged Isaac D. Barnes, 26, and Untrell Oden, 27, with the killing on Wednesday.