On June 6, 2018, Sakhya Monea Bentley was at home with friends. And while that situation by itself is nothing out of the ordinary – especially for a 12-year-old girl – what would eventually happen that evening would leave Bentley’s mother, Nyeisha Brown, devastated. What’s more, the events of that night would greatly alter the course of several young lives.
Police would ultimately arrive at the house in Riverdale, Georgia, too, as there had been a report of gunfire taking place at the location at approximately 11:00 p.m. A law enforcement statement later revealed that a number of young people were at the home at the time of the alleged incident.
Before the cops had arrived on the scene, however, Brown had apparently spoken to Sakhya over FaceTime. And according to the mom, the conversation had taken place just a quarter of an hour or so prior to any shots being fired. “I had just talked to her about boys being in my yard and having company,” Brown explained to Atlanta-based ABC affiliate WSB-TV in June 2018.
Brown laid down the law when she returned home, too, as she asked some of her daughter’s friends who didn’t have permission to be at the house to leave. However, when these unwelcome guests returned, Brown later said, the shooting started.
And local police would subsequently work towards establishing the facts of the case. Two males, aged 13 and 14, were investigated in connection with the shooting; several other young people were also questioned for information. In addition, there was the matter of determining exactly who owned the weapon involved in the incident.
Furthermore, in the aftermath of the shooting, Brown herself was wondering how any teenager managed to get hold of a gun. “How did it end up in [their] hands?” the mom asked in her interview with WSB-TV, adding, “There’s so many other questions.” Still, investigators on the case were confident enough in the information they had gleaned to deem the shooting as accidental.
But even if the gunfire was unintentional, it had tragic consequences all the same. When law enforcement officials arrived at Brown’s home, they discovered that Sakhya was unresponsive at the scene. And while the 12-year-old was subsequently rushed to hospital, her injuries were too severe for her to survive; she therefore passed away at the facility.
A seemingly heartbroken Brown would then speak to CBS affiliate WGCL-TV, sharing her recollections of Sakhya. “My daughter will never graduate high school, so this is the closest thing I have to a graduation picture,” Brown explained, referring to a photo of Sakhya taken at the end of sixth grade in which she is seen in a blue graduation robe. The young girl had dreamed of becoming an attorney when she grew up.
And Brown apparently cherishes her positive memories of Sakhya, talking to the press about their close relationship and the cheerful girl she remembers her daughter being. “[Sakhya] was very happy, she was very bubbly, she was very inspiring,” Brown would tell Fox 5 just hours after her bereavement.
In the meantime, two young men, aged 13 and 14, have been charged for the shooting that ultimately killed Sakhya; they have also reportedly confessed to possession of a firearm by a juvenile, reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter. The unnamed boys have since been transported to a youth detention center.
Brown believes that one of these kids was playing with the weapon when the fatal shot was accidentally fired, hitting and killing her daughter. Despite her grief, though, she feels sympathy for the young boys and, in particular, their families. “They’re losing their children too,” the bereaved mom remarked to WSB-TV.
However, Brown has also raised concerns about the current climate of gun violence in the U.S., where a 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Texas has concluded that firearms are the third-biggest killer of those under 18. The devastated mother told FOX 5, “I’m mad that these situations are taken so lightly.”
And since the tragic death of her daughter, Brown has set up a GoFundMe page. The mom revealed on the website that, during a difficult period in her life, she regrettably had to end her family life insurance policy; she is therefore using the platform to raise money for Sakhya’s funeral arrangements. Thus far, Brown has raised over $16,000 for her cause, having received donations from more than 400 people.
Some of the donors may also have been touched by part of Brown’s message on the site – an excerpt from a past Mothers’ Day message that Sakhya had written to her. “I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world or even life itself,” the young girl had said. “I appreciate everything you do for us… you lost your job for me, and you bounced back better than ever.” The GoFundMe page itself has also received over a thousand shares online.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Sakhya’s death continues, although some of the details of the tragic accident that occurred on June 6 are still to be publicly revealed. In addition, two weeks after the shooting, the police on the case hadn’t yet located the weapon that had killed the 12-year-old.
However, Brown has since gone on record as claiming that one of the two suspects has often been known to mess around with guns. While talking to WSB-TV, the mother even pointed out that there was a clip on Instagram that apparently sees the teen in question handling a firearm.
“What are you doing playing with the gun, period?” Brown added to the station. “He plays and does this all the time, and this is what I mean about taking accountability. All of that is being ignored, because he’s never been caught.”
Not only that, but it has come to light that the charged youths may be associated with a gang. Tracy Graham Lawson, the Clayton Judicial Circuit of Georgia district attorney, told WSB-TV that the boys reportedly belong to a clan known as Gangster Disciples – although the group itself is not thought to be connected to the June shooting.
It remains to be seen, then, what happens to the teens charged in the case. According to Lawson, a probations office will come up with a recommendation as to their fate: they may either walk free or face detention for as long as two years.
And while the shooting that resulted in the death of her daughter may have been an accident, Brown feels that parents and society need to take responsibility for keeping guns out of young hands. “Kids only know what they see and what they are taught,” she claimed to WGCL-TV. “It’s environmental and it’s taught. We as parents, we’ve got to do stuff differently.”