Kriworld News — Two adolescent students were slain and a man was badly injured in what police described as a targeted shooting at an alternative educational program for at-risk youngsters. The injured guy was recognized as the program’s creator — a rapper who abandoned a life of gangs and violence to help Des Moines youngsters.
According to police, one guy has been charged in connection with the shooting, and two others remain in detention. Preston Walls, 18, of Des Moines, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the shooting at the Starts Right Here program. He was also accused with criminal gang membership.
According to authorities, the shooting was the consequence of an ongoing gang feud. Walls was on supervised release for a firearms offense and had removed his ankle monitor 16 minutes before the shooting, according to police.
“The incident was clearly planned. It was not haphazard. “There was nothing random about it,” stated Sgt. Paul Parizek.
An 18-year-old male and a 16-year-old male from Des Moines were slain. William Holmes, a 49-year-old rapper who goes by the stage name Will Keeps and started the program, was injured and was in surgery Monday evening.
According to police, Walls and all three victims were present at the school on Monday when Walls entered a common room where Holmes and the two kids were. Police said Walls was in possession of a 9mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine, but they could not say whether he was flaunting the weapon.
Holmes attempted to guide Walls away from the scene, but Walls “drew the handgun and began to fire both juvenile victims,” according to police. Holmes, who was standing nearby, was also shot, and Walls fled, according to authorities.
Officers on the scene observed a suspicious car fleeing the scene. The vehicle was halted by officers. However, Walls fled and was apprehended shortly afterwards. A 9mm handgun was discovered nearby, according to police. Three rounds were in the ammo magazine, which had a capacity of 31 rounds.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie stated that the passengers in the vehicle with Walls are also teenagers.
“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,” Cownie said during a City Council meeting on Monday. “This is a growing and disturbing issue in our society, and it’s one we’ve seen far too often in the past, and it’s happening again today in Des Moines.”
Cownie observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims. He claimed to have spoken with their family members. “However, there is little anyone can say to alleviate their suffering. “There is nothing that can be said to bring those who were slaughtered so senselessly back,” he remarked.
Walls has not yet appeared in court. It was unclear whether he had an attorney speaking on his behalf.
Just before 1 p.m., police said, emergency services were called to the school near a business park. Officers arrived to find two pupils badly injured and promptly began CPR, however the two students died at the hospital.
Starts Right Away Here is an educational program linked with the Des Moines school district that assists at-risk adolescents in grades 9-12.
“The school is designed to pick up the slack and assist the children who require the most assistance,” Parizek explained.
According to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the region’s economic and community development agency, Keeps moved to Des Moines approximately 20 years ago from Chicago, where he “lived in a world of gangs and violence” until finding healing via music.
The initiative “seeks to promote and educate young people living in impoverished and oppressive conditions through the arts, entertainment, music, hip hop, and other initiatives,” according to the alliance. It also educates students financial literacy and assists them in preparing for job interviews and improving their communication skills. The ultimate goal is to tear down walls of fear, intimidation, and other detrimental forces that lead to feelings of disenfranchisement, forgetfulness, and rejection.”
According to the program’s website, one of Keeps’ songs, “Wake Up Iowa,” carries the message that “violence and hatred are not the Iowa way, and instead, we need to learn from the mistakes of other cities, so we don’t wind up being destroyed by violence and crime.”
According to the school’s website, 70% of its students are minorities, and it has graduated 28 students since its inception in 2021. According to the school system, the program serves 40 to 50 pupils at any given time. According to the district, no district employees were present at the time of the incident.
“We are horrified to learn of another act of gun violence, especially one that affects an organization that works directly with some of our students,” Interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement. We are currently waiting for additional information, but our hearts go out to any victims of this catastrophe, as well as their families and friends.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on the Starts Right Here advisory board, said she was “shocked and horrified to learn of the incident.” According to the program’s website, Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert serves on the Starts Right Here board.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his colleagues work to assist at-risk children through this alternative education program,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My heart goes out to them, these children and their families.”
Nicole Krantz claimed her office near the school was placed on lockdown immediately following the shooting, and she witnessed someone fleeing the building with police on foot and in patrol cars behind them.
“We simply saw cop cars rushing in from all directions,” Krantz told the Des Moines Register. “It’s frightening. We’re all concerned. Obviously, we went into lockdown. We were all advised to stay away from the windows since we didn’t know if they had apprehended the man.”
According to Education Week, which tracks school shootings, this was the sixth shooting at a school in the United States this year in which someone was hurt or killed, but the first involving fatalities. According to the website, there were 51 school shootings last year that resulted in injuries or deaths, and there have been 150 since 2018. Last year’s worst school shooting murdered 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
One teenager was killed and two other teens were seriously injured in a separate shooting outside a Des Moines high school last March. Ten people were charged after the incident, all of whom were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time. Five of them have pleaded guilty to crimes related to the incident.
Funk contributed reporting from Omaha, Nebraska. This report was contributed to by Associated Press writers Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas.