A shooting at an at-risk youth education program in Des Moines, Iowa, killed two students and seriously injured the program’s founder, authorities said.
At 12:53 a.m. Monday, police and fire departments responded to a report of a shooting at 455 SW 5th Street, where the nonprofit Starts Right Here is located, the Des Moines Police Department said in a press release.
They found the victims of the shooting, who were taken to hospitals. The names of the dead have not been released.
Police have not identified the injured person, but Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said it was Starts Right Here program president and R&B hip-hop artist Will Holmes, also known as “Will Keeps.” According to the police, his condition is serious.
Police obtained a description of a vehicle related to the shooting and made a traffic stop two miles away about 20 minutes after the shooting, police Sgt. Paul Parizek said this at a press conference.
Two people remained in the vehicle and one got out and ran, Parizek said. Police found the suspect with a sniffer dog, he said.
Parizek did not identify the suspects or say whether they had been charged.
“We have two deaths, so we’re looking at the most serious charges,” he said.
The motive has not yet been released by the police.
“The incident was definitely targeted,” Parizek said. “It wasn’t random. There’s nothing arbitrary about this. It was certainly a targeted incident. But as far as getting a motive, that’s something we’re going to try to figure out.
According to the Starts Right Here website, “Starts Right Here (SRH) is engaged in inspiring at-risk youth in the Des Moines Public Schools and motivating youth through speaking engagements. Will Keeps, SRH President, sings powerful songs to inspire and speak the truth.”
Keeps is a rapper who grew up in Chicago and moved to Des Moines.
“I want to take a moment to reflect on the horrific shooting this afternoon at Starts Right Here, the school program on Southwest 5th St. and it’s run by a friend from town, Will Keeps, who is recovering in the hospital tonight,” Cownie said in a video statement.
The mayor called the shooting a “story that repeats itself – the tragic story of young lives taken away by gun violence far too soon.”
The Des Moines Public Schools website says SRH is working with the school district to help students in the district’s Options Academy credit recovery program and support students who are no longer in a school building. SRH serves 40-50 DMPS students at any given time, according to the school district.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who is included on the website’s advisory board, said she is “shocked and saddened” by the shooting.
“I am shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Starts Right Here. I’ve seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his staff work to help at-risk children through this alternative education program. My heart breaks for them, these children and their families. Kevin and I are praying for a safe recovery,” Reynolds said in a statement.