Press Releases

April Gaskins faces six years at sentencing for not properly securing the firearm that shot and killed fifteen-year-old Nykayla Strawder

Baltimore, Md. (July 18, 2023) - Today, State's Attorney Ivan J. Bates announced that April Gaskins was found guilty of two charges in the fatal shooting of fifteen-year-old Nykayla Strawder by Gaskins' grandson. She faces six years at sentencing on September 14, 2023, for Reckless Endangerment and Firearm Access by a Minor. Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Brady prosecuted this case.

“This was an incredibly challenging case given the victim’s age and the circumstances surrounding her death. Responsible gun ownership and proper gun storage are paramount to keeping our children safe,” said State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates. “This case highlights the dire consequences when people are careless with deadly weapons and my commitment to holding parents and guardians accountable for the actions of their children, especially in cases involving gun violence. I continue to keep the Strawder family in my prayers as they grapple with the loss of their child.”

On August 6, 2022, at approximately 8:01 p.m., Baltimore Police officers responded to the 600 block of Linnard Street about a shooting. Upon arrival, officers located a juvenile female on the porch of a residence suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The juvenile was later identified as Nykayla Strawder. The victim was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased despite best efforts.

The investigation revealed that a group of juveniles were sitting on the front porch of the residence when a nine-year-old juvenile male began showing off a gun. The firearm then discharged, striking the victim once in the head. The male subsequently dropped the gun and ran away. The handgun was recovered by investigators and found to be registered to April Gaskins, the juvenile male's guardian and grandmother. Ms. Gaskins told investigators that the handgun was her personal weapon and that she stored it on the floor of her bedroom closet. She also stated that her grandson had access to her bedroom, where he often watched television.

A search and seizure warrant was executed at Ms. Gaskins' residence, and the following was recovered: one empty magazine, two boxes of 9mm Lugar ammunition, and one empty gun box.