According to authorities, the shooting deaths of two students at a Des Moines alternative education program aimed at assisting at-risk youths were a targeted act, and an 18-year-old has been accused.
Both males, ages 18 and 16, were murdered in the shooting on Monday at the Starts Right Here program, according to authorities. William Holmes, the 49-year-old creator of the program, had surgery after suffering critical injuries.
According to information from a local community development organization, Will Keeps, a rapper and activist who goes by the stage name Holmes, had dedicated his life to assisting young people in Des Moines after leaving a life of gangs and violence.
According to authorities, 18-year-old Preston Walls of Des Moines was charged with two charges of murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities said that the shooting was the consequence of an ongoing gang conflict, and he was also charged with criminal gang participation. Walls had taken off his ankle monitor 16 minutes prior to the shooting, according to authorities, and was on supervised release following a firearms arrest.
It’s clear that the incident was intended. It wasn’t arbitrary. Nothing about this was random, according to Sgt. Paul Parizek.
Walls entered a common room where Holmes and the two students were Monday while Walls and all three victims were present, according to the police. They claimed that Walls was in possession of a 9mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine.
Walls pushed away, drew the pistol and continued to fire both young victims, police said in a statement, despite Holmes’ attempts to remove him away from the scene. According to authorities, Walls fled as Holmes, who was standing nearby, was shot as well.
When responding officers noticed a suspicious vehicle leaving the scene, they stopped it. Walls, though, escaped and was subsequently apprehended. A 9mm handgun, according to police, was discovered nearby. Three were in the magazine of ammunition, which holds 31 rounds.
The two other passengers in the car with Walls, according to Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, are also teenagers. They remained in arrest Monday night, according to the police.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Cownie remarked, That brings a total of five families of teens affected by young gun violence in a matter of minutes, right here in our capital city.
Cownie claimed to have spoken with the victims’ relatives. However, there isn’t much one can say to make them feel better. There is nothing that can be spoken to bring back those who were so senselessly slaughtered, the speaker remarked.
Walls has not yet appeared in court. It wasn’t immediately obvious if he had a lawyer to represent him.
Right Start Here is an educational initiative that supports young people in need in grades 9 through 12 and is connected to the Des Moines school system.
According to Parizek, the school is designed to pick up the slack and assist the children who need assistance the most.
According to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the area’s economic and community development group, Keeps moved to Des Moines from Chicago approximately 20 years ago after having lived in a world of gangs and violence before discovering healing via music. In 2021, he established Starts Right Here.
The Starts Right Here movement seeks to motivate and educate young people living in impoverished and oppressive circumstances via the arts, entertainment, music, hip hop, and other activities, according to the collaboration. In addition to teaching communication and job interview skills, the curriculum also teaches financial literacy.
According to the school’s website, 28 people have graduated since it opened, and 70% of the students it serves are from minority groups. The program reportedly serves 40 to 50 pupils at a time, according to the school system.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, a member of Starts Right Here’s advisory board, expressed her shock and sadness after the shooting.
According to the website for the initiative, Starts Right Here’s board is chaired by Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert.
According to Education Week, which keeps track of 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 have been 150 school shootings since 2018, 51 of which resulted in injuries or fatalities. In Uvalde, Texas, an elementary school had the worst school shooting of the year, which claimed the lives of 21 people.
One kid was killed and two other teenagers suffered serious injuries in a separate shooting that occurred outside a Des Moines high school in March. Ten people were charged following the incident, all of them were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time. Five of them have admitted guilt to a range of offenses.
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