'I'm still in shock:' Candlelight vigil held on 1-year anniversary of shooting death of Sandra Parks

MILWAUKEE -- A candlelight vigil and balloon release were held Tuesday, Nov. 19 on the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of 13-year-old Sandra Parks. The young girl, who often wrote about gun violence, was killed by a stray bullet fired into her home near 13th Street and Hopkins Street on Nov. 19, 2018.

The somber, yet celebratory vigil was held in a field near the home where Parks lost her life.

"It's almost like it's happening all over again," said Bernice Parks, Sandra's mother.

Dressed in all white, in honor of their little angel, Bernice Parks continued to struggle to cope a year after she heard her daughter, Sandra, screaming for help after she was shot in their home while watching TV.

Bernice Parks

"I'm still kind of in shock," said Jasmine Ousley-Wells, Sandra's godmother.

"Sandra was a special, special child," said Bernice Parks. "It takes a lot to go through what I went through, and I'm still going through it."

After this young life was taken so senselessly, loved oned prayed for strength -- and a safer city. A year later, other Milwaukee parents have been forced to deal with the same pain, like the parents of 3-year-old Brooklyn Harris, who was killed in a road rage shooting on July 13, and the parents of 6-year-old Alisa Gee and 4-year-old Amea Gee, who died after a hit-and-run crash that happened on Oct. 24.

"I feel like they are not safe," said Bernice Parks. "First, it was shootings through your house. Now, it's just people running over our kids. Something has to be done about it. I don't know what they're gonna plan to do about it."

On the one-year anniversary of her daughter's tragic death, Bernice Parks said she doesn't want the community to forget about the young girl whose smile brightened a room -- who made a difference with her words and actions.

"She was just a ball of joy," said Bernice Parks. "See, Sandra was a person that liked to help people. She helped everybody in the neighborhood.

"She was very insightful on a lot of things, and very smart," said Ousley-Wells.

Sandra Parks was recognized for her writing -- personal poems and essays about stopping gun violence -- one way in which her legacy lives on.

"She is here in spirit," said Bernice Parks. "I just wished she would have been here to see how many people out here that really loved her and care."

After the vigil at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the community was invited to the Rise and Grind Cafe on MLK Drive, where the tribute was scheduled to continue. There, her friends were set to write about how they've been impacted by gun violence -- with those notes compiled in a book with Sandra Parks' writings.

"She ain't gone," said Bernice Parks. "She's not gone. Her shell is gone. Her body's gone, but we still got Sandra."

Isaac Barnes, Sandra Parks, Untrell Oden

Isaac Barnes, the man prosecutors said fired the shot that killed Sandra Parks was sentenced in August to serve 51 years in prison and 25 years' extended supervision. This, after he pleaded guilty during his court trial.

His co-defendant, the man prosecutors said helped Barnes hide his guns after the shooting, pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to serve two years and six months in prison, and two years and six months' extended supervision.