Des Moines school shooting: Live updates

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two teenage students were killed and a man seriously wounded Monday in what police said was a targeted shooting at an alternative education program designed to keep at-risk youth out of trouble. The injured man was identified as the founder of the program – a rapper who left a life of gangs and violence to help young people in Des Moines.

One person has been charged in the shooting and two others remain in custody, police said Monday. Preston Walls, 18, of Des Moines, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for the Starts Right Here shooting. He was also accused of participating in a criminal group.

Officials said the shooting was the result of a gang dispute. Police said Walls was being monitored for weapons charges and had removed the ankle monitor 16 minutes before the shooting.

“This incident was definitely targeted. This was no accident. There was nothing random about it,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Two Des Moines teenagers, an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, were killed. William Holmes, a 49-year-old rapper who founded the program and goes by the stage name Will Capes, was injured and was in surgery Monday night.

Police said Walls and all three victims were at the school Monday when Walls entered a common area where Holmes and two students were. Police said Walls had a 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine in his possession, although they did not specify whether he was displaying the weapon.

Holmes tried to chase Walls away from the area, but Walls pulled away, “pulled out a gun and began shooting both teenage victims,” ​​police said in a statement. Holmes was standing nearby and was also shot, then Walls fled, police said.

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Responding officers saw a suspicious vehicle leaving the area. The officers stopped the car. But Walls escaped and was arrested shortly after. A 9 mm handgun was found nearby, police said. The ammunition magazine, with a capacity of 31 rounds, had three.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cooney said the people in Walls’ car were also teenagers.

“This brings a total of five teenage families who have been affected by youth gun violence on Monday afternoon right here in our capital city,” Cooney said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “This is a growing and alarming phenomenon in our country, and we’ve seen it a lot in the past and today in the city of Des Moines.”

Couni held a minute of silence for the victims. He said he spoke to their family members. “But hardly anyone can say that it reduces their pain. Nothing can be said to bring them back, those who were killed so senselessly,” he said.

Walls has yet to appear in court. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Police said emergency personnel were called to the school, which is located in a business park, just before 1 p.m. When officers arrived, they found two students seriously injured and they immediately began CPR, but the two students in died in the hospital.

Here is an educational program that helps at-risk youth in grades 9-12 and is affiliated with the Des Moines School District.

“The school is designed to cut through the slack and help the kids who need it the most,” Parizek said.

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

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The Right Start Here movement, the partnership said, “seeks to inspire and educate youth living in disadvantaged and oppressive environments through the use of arts, entertainment, music, hip-hop and other programs.” It also teaches financial literacy and helps students prepare for job interviews and improve their communication skills. The ultimate goal is to break down the barriers of fear, dread and other harmful factors that lead to feelings of deprivation, being forgotten and rejected.”

According to the program’s website, one of Keeps’ songs, “Wake Up Iowa,” sends the message that “violence and hate are not Iowa’s way, and instead, we should learn from the mistakes of other cities so we don’t have to deal with violence and crime.” will be”.

The school’s website says 70 percent of the students it serves are minorities, and it has 28 graduates since it opened in 2021. The school district said the program serves 40 to 50 students at any given time. The district said that no district employee was present at the scene of the shooting.

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

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on the Starts Right Here Advisory Board, said she was “shocked and saddened to hear of the shooting.” Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert is on the Starts Right Here board, according to the program’s website.

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“I have seen how hard Will Capes and his staff are working to help at-risk children through this alternative education program,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My heart goes out to them, these kids and their families.”

Nicole Krantz said her office across the street from the school went into lockdown immediately after the shooting, and she saw someone being chased out of the building by police on foot and in patrol cars.

“We just saw a lot of police cars pouring in from everywhere,” Krantz told the Des Moines Register. “It’s scary. We are all worried. We went to the lock, no doubt. Everyone was told to stay away from the windows because we didn’t know if they had caught the guy.

The shooting was the sixth school shooting in the US this year in which someone was injured or killed, but the first fatal, according to Education Weekly, which tracks school shootings. The website said there were 51 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths last year, and 150 since 2018. In the worst school shooting of the past year, 21 people were killed. at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Last March, a student was killed and two other teenagers were seriously injured in a separate shooting outside a Des Moines high school. Ten people, all between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the shooting, were later 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.

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