On Monday, two high school students were killed, and a guy was critically injured, in what authorities are calling a targeted shooting at a school for troubled teens. The victim was the program’s founder, a former gang member and violent rapper who has dedicated his life to improving the lives of young people in Des Moines.
On Monday, police revealed that one individual had been charged in connection with the shooting and that two others were still in detention. Des Moines resident Preston Walls, 18, has been charged with two charges of murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the shooting at the Starts Right Here program. Criminal gang membership was also listed among his charges.
The incident was linked to an ongoing gang rivalry, according to authorities. The police reported that 16 minutes before the incident, Walls had removed his ankle monitor while on supervised release for a firearms offense.
BREAKING: Two students dead, teacher injured in shooting at Des Moines, Iowa, charter school. https://t.co/0nGF1YfwCv
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 23, 2023
There’s no doubt that this was a premeditated attack. What happened was not coincidental. Sgt. Paul Parizek was quick to point out the lack of randomness in the situation.
A male youngster of 18 and a guy teen of 16 were both killed in Des Moines. Rapper William Holmes, 49, who created the program and performs under the moniker Will Keeps, was hurt and undergoing surgery on Monday night.
All three victims, including Walls, were reportedly present at the school on Monday, when Walls walked into a common area where Holmes and the two children were. Police reported that Walls was in possession of a 9mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine, though they did not say whether or not he was brandishing it.
After Holmes tried to lead Walls away, Walls turned away, “drew the handgun, and commenced to fire both juvenile victims,” according to a police statement. After shooting Holmes, police say Walls rushed off. Holmes was standing nearby.
When police arrived, they witnessed a suspicious vehicle drive away. The vehicle was pulled over by police. However, Walls escaped and was captured shortly afterward. A 9-millimetre handgun, according to the police, was discovered in the area. Only three rounds were in the weapon’s ammunition magazine, which can hold up to 31.
The mayor of Des Moines has confirmed that Walls’ passengers are also minors.
At the Monday City Council meeting, Cownie said, “That brings a total of five families of teens affected by youth gun violence in a matter of minutes on a Monday afternoon, right here in our capital city.” We’ve seen this all too frequently in the past, and it’s happening again today in the city of Des Moines; this is a growing and disturbing pattern in our country.
Cownie observed a minute of silence in honor of the victims. He claimed to have communicated with members of their immediate family. However, there is really nothing that can be spoken to alleviate their suffering. There is nothing I can say that can bring back those who were slaughtered so needlessly,” he remarked.
Walls has avoided appearing in court so far. No one could tell whether he was represented by an attorney or not.
The school, located in an industrial area, reportedly requested emergency services shortly before 1 p.m. When police arrived, they found two students who had been severely hurt; they immediately began CPR on them, but sadly, both students later died in the hospital.
The Proper Way to Get Started For high school dropouts in the Des Moines area, the district offers this school-based instructional program.
Parizek remarked that the institution was set up to support disadvantaged students.
BREAKING UPDATE: Des Moines police say two students are now dead, one staff member still in the hospital.
Three potential suspects are all in custody.
Police say this shooting happened at the Starts Right Here charter school in downtown Des Moines. pic.twitter.com/MRk6GinGno
— Chenue Her (@ChenueHer) January 23, 2023
Keeps “lived in a world of gangs and violence” in Chicago before finding solace in music, according to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, an organization that promotes economic and community growth in the area. Keeps moved to Des Moines around twenty years ago.
Through the use of the arts, entertainment, music, hip-hop, and other activities, the Starts Right Here movement “seeks to motivate and educate young people living in poor and oppressive conditions,” as stated by the collaboration.
It also helps students develop their communication skills and financial literacy in preparation for future job interviews. As a whole, we want to eliminate the elements that contribute to people feeling powerless, ignored, and rejected, such as stigma, prejudice, and fear.
One of Keeps’ songs, “Wake Up Iowa,” allegedly conveys the message that “violence and hate are not the Iowa way” and that the state should instead “learn from other cities’ experiences” to avoid becoming “torn by violence and crime.”
According to the institution’s website, 28 students have graduated since it opened in 2021, and 70% of its student body consists of members of underrepresented groups. According to the school system, 40-50 pupils participate in the program at any given time. According to the school district, no district personnel was present during the incident.
It is with great sadness that we learn of yet another act of gun violence, especially one that affects an organization that works directly with some of our students,” said Interim Superintendent Matt Smith in a statement. While we await additional information, please know that our prayers are with the family and friends of everyone who may have been affected by this tragedy.
Governor Kim Reynolds, who sits on the Starts Right Here board of advisors, expressed shock and sadness at the news of the shooting. Starts Right Here lists Dana Wingert, police chief of Des Moines, on its advisory board.
Reynolds said in a statement, “I’ve witnessed firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his crew works to help at-risk students through this alternative education program. For the sake of these children and their families, my heart aches.
Nicole Krantz reported that her workplace was placed on lockdown near the school after the shooting occurred and that she witnessed a person fleeing the building while police pursued them on foot and in patrol cars.
According to what Krantz told the Des Moines Register, “we just noticed a lot of cop cars streaming in from everywhere.” You could say, “It’s terrifying. Everyone here is anxious. Naturally, we instituted a lockdown. The guards advised us to stay away from the windows until they announced that the suspect had been apprehended.
According to the publication Education Week, which keeps tabs on school shootings, this was the sixth school shooting in the United States this year, but the first involving fatalities. According to the data presented on the website, there were fifty-one incidents resulting in injuries or fatalities at schools in 2017. Twenty-one people were slain at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in the worst school shooting of 2017.
Separately, one student was killed and two others were seriously injured in a shooting outside a Des Moines high school in March. After the incident, ten people, all of whom were under the age of 18 at the time, were arrested and charged. The shooting has resulted in guilty pleas from five of them.