Des Moines school shooting: Live updates

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An 18-year-old man has been charged with murder in the Monday murders of two teens at an alternative education program for at-risk youth in Des Moines.

Police said Preston Walls of Des Moines is charged with two counts of murder and one attempted murder in Monday’s shooting at Starts Right Here. Two teenagers – an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old man – were killed in the attack.

The program’s founder, 49-year-old William Holmes – a rapper who goes by the stage name Will Keeps – was injured.

Police said Walls had been released under supervision for gun possession and removed an ankle bracelet 16 minutes before going to the school with a gun and confronting the two student victims. According to police, Walls and the two students all had gang ties and were in opposing gangs.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two teenage students were killed Monday and a man was seriously injured in what police said was a targeted shooting at an alternative education program designed to keep at-risk youth away from trouble, police said. The injured man was identified as the program’s founder — a rapper who left a life of violence behind and devoted himself to helping youth in Des Moines.

Shortly after the shooting at the educational program Starts Right Here, three people were arrested, police said. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie identified the injured adult as William Holmes — who goes by the stage name Will Keeps — and said the victims and those arrested were all teenagers.

“That brings a total of five families of teenagers impacted by youth violence within minutes on a Monday afternoon right here in our capital city,” Cownie said. “This is a growing and alarming phenomenon in our country, and we’ve seen it too many times in the past and today in the city of Des Moines.”

Cownie held a moment of silence for the victims. He said he had spoken to their relatives. “But there is little that can say that their pain will lessen. Nothing that can be said to bring back those who have been so senselessly murdered.

Starts Right Here is an educational program affiliated with the Des Moines school district. Police said emergency crews were called to the school, which is located in a business park, just before 1pm. The two students died in a hospital. The adult, later identified as Keeps by the mayor, was in serious condition and police said he underwent surgery Monday night.

About 20 minutes after the shooting, officers stopped a car that matched witnesses’ descriptions about 2 miles away and took three people into custody. Police said one person ran from the car, but officers tracked that person down with a K-9.

“The incident was definitely targeted. It wasn’t random. There was nothing arbitrary about this,’ Sgt. said Paul Parisek. But he said the motive for the shooting was unknown.

The Starts Right Here program, which helps at-risk youth in grades 9-12, was founded in 2021 by Keeps.

“The school is designed to take the slack and help the kids who need help the most,” Parizek said. Police have not said whether the teens in custody were students of the program.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership, the economic and community development organization for the region, says on its website that Keeps came to Des Moines from Chicago about 20 years ago, where he “lived in a world of gangs and violence” before finding healing through music.

The partnership said the Starts Right Here movement “aims to encourage and educate young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances through arts, entertainment, music, hip-hop and other programs. It also teaches financial literacy and helps students prepare for prepare for job interviews and improve their communication skills. The ultimate goal is to break barriers of fear, intimidation and other harmful factors that lead to a feeling of disenfranchisement, forgetting and rejection.”

According to the program’s website, one of Keeps’ songs, “Wake Up Iowa,” sends a message that “Violence and hate are not Iowa’s way, and instead we must learn from the mistakes of other cities so that we not end up plagued by violence and crime.”

The school’s website says that 70% of the students it serves are minorities, and there have been 28 graduates since its inception. The school district said the program serves 40 to 50 students at any one time. The district said no district employees were on the scene at the time of the shooting.

Interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement: “We are saddened to hear of another act of gun violence, especially one that affects an organization that works closely with some of our students. We are still awaiting more details, but our thoughts are with all the victims of this incident and their families and friends.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on an advisory board for Starts Right Here, said she was “shocked and saddened to learn about the shooting.” Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert sits on the Starts Right Here board, according to the program’s website.

“I have seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his staff work to help at-risk children through this alternative education program,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My heart breaks for them, these children and their families.”

Nicole Krantz said her office near the school was locked down immediately after the shooting and she saw someone run out of the building as police chased him on foot and in patrol cars.

“We just saw a lot of police cars pouring in from all over,” Krantz told the Des Moines Register. “It’s terrifying. We are all concerned. Of course we locked. We were all told to stay away from the windows because we weren’t sure if they had caught the man.

This year’s shooting was the sixth at a US school to leave someone injured or killed, but the first fatal, according to Education Week, which tracks school shootings. According to the website, there were 51 school shootings last year that left injuries or deaths, up from 150 since 2018. The worst school shooting last year killed 21 people. at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

In a separate shooting outside a Des Moines high school last March, a student was killed and two other teens were critically injured. Ten people – all of whom were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the shooting – were subsequently charged. Five of them have pleaded guilty to various charges related to the shooting.

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Funk reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press writers Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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