The heartache of losing a child is something no parent should ever have to endure, but that's the reality that many families in America live with.
Instead of preparing for the Thanksgiving festivities, the family of 13-year-old Sandra Parks are mourning her premature death.
The Milwaukee student was fatally shot on November 19 when a stray bullet broke through her bedroom window while she watched television, according to WISN.
"She took it like a soldier," her sister, Tatiana Ingram, told the local news station. "She just walked in the room and said, 'Mama, I'm shot.' "She was only hit one time, in her chest. The bullet wasn’t even for her."
Sandra's senseless death not only took a toll on her family, but it has left a mark on so many people that have never met her, but heard her cries about violence a few years ago.
In 2016, Sandra wrote an award-winning essay about gun violence and how it has created chaos in her hometown.
"Little children are victims of senseless gun violence," she wrote in the poignant essay entitled Our Truth. " ... 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."
In the dissertation, which won third place in the contest, Sandra urged people to "start caring about each other," as well as "to be empathetic and try to walk in each other's shoes."
"We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us," she continued. "Then, we become our brothers keeper."
The young advocate also appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio last year, where she explained that she chose the topic of gun violence because of how many high number of shootings that are occurring these days.
"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," she said.
Sandra's mother, Bernice Parks, spoke with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the tragedy, and described her daughter as "was everything this world was not."
"My baby was not violent. My baby did not like violence," she said. "She was my angel from the time she was in my womb to the time she came out."
Sandra, who once dreamed of becoming a writer after college, is now the seventh Milwaukee public school student to become a homicide victim this year.
Bullets ripped through the home near, killing 13-year-old girl #SandraParks.— Khary Penebaker, Fx (@kharyp) November 21, 2018
Sandra Parks is the latest child in Milwaukee to be the victim of gun violence. Over the last 2 years, 9 children have been shot & killed & 95 were injured due to gun violence https://t.co/ofF5cPsEAu pic.twitter.com/QSObO28JlZ
"It’s part of the insanity we see in Milwaukee,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a news conference. "I look at where we are now as a city and it breaks my heart to stand here. As a dad, it breaks my heart."
Officials have since arrested and charged two men with multiple counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, in connection to Sandra's death. One of the perpetrators was found in a hiding in a closet after the incident, the other was located in a nearby home during a police sweep.
According to Sgt. Sheronda Grant, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Police Department, it's unclear if Sandra's home was targeted and "the motive is still being determined."
A vigil was held outside of Sandra's home on Tuesday night, and the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
Cherise Dawson (left) lights candles with her 13-year-old daughter Kendra Perkins outside the home of Sandra Parks on Milwaukee’s north side Tuesday evening. Dozens of people came to a vigil in honor of Parks who was shot to death Monday night while she was in bed. pic.twitter.com/v8RTP7lUcM— Meg Jones (@MegJonesJS) November 21, 2018