Baltimore grandmother sentenced to prison after grandson fatally shot Nykayla Strawder

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

A Baltimore woman was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl by her 9-year-old grandson.

April Gaskins, 55, was convicted of reckless endangerment and firearm access by a minor in July and was facing a maximum sentence of six years.


Nykayla Strawder, 15, stopped on her front porch in Southwest Baltimore’s Edmondson Village neighborhood in August 2022 to talk with friends when the 9-year-old shot her once in the head, dropped the gun and ran away, police said at the time. Police said the shooting was accidental.

The 9-year-old was “showing off a gun” prior to the shooting, according to the Baltimore State Attorney’s Office, and Gaskins, a licensed security guard, told investigators she stored the handgun on the floor of the closet in her bedroom, where her grandson often watched television.


“Responsible gun ownership can be a matter of life or death for parents and guardians,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates said in a news release. “This case shows the deadly aftermath when people are careless with firearms.”

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams oversaw a bench trial and the sentencing hearing in the case.

Brandon Mead, Gaskins’ defense attorney, criticized the sentence.

“Both April and I are very upset with the sentencing. We believe it was above and beyond what she should have been sentenced,” said Mead, noting Gaskins also has a 14-year-old daughter. “She was careless with her firearm but not reckless. What happened was tragic, but don’t compound the tragedy by putting her in jail away from her family.”