Des Moines, Iowa shooting: Suspect arrested after 2 Starts Right Here students were killed, founder of education program in serious condition, police say

Des Moines, Iowa shooting: Suspect arrested after 2 Starts Right Here students were killed, founder of education program in serious condition, police say



CNN

A man has been arrested and charged with murder after a shooting at an educational program for at-risk youth in Des Moines, Iowa, left two students dead and the program’s founder critically injured, authorities said in a news release.

At 12:53 p.m. Monday, police and fire personnel responded to a report of a shooting at 455 SW 5th Street, which is home to the nonprofit organization Starts Right Here, Des Moines police said in a Press release.

They found the victims of the shooting, who were taken to hospitals. The names of those killed were not released.

Preston Walls, 18, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal gang involvement, police said in an updated statement.

“Walls, and both deceased victims, are known gang members, belonging to opposing gangs, and evidence indicates that these crimes were committed as a result of an ongoing gang dispute,” the updated news release said. Des Moines police did not provide further details outlining these claims.

Police said Walls cut off a court-ordered GPS ankle monitor about 16 minutes before the shooting.

CNN has not been able to determine if Walls has retained legal counsel at this time.

Police investigate the shooting that left two people dead on January 23, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Police did not identify 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.” Police said he was in serious condition.

The shooting occurred after the suspect, who had a 9mm pistol with an extended ammunition clip, “entered a common area where all three victims were located,” the police statement said.

Holmes “attempted to escort Walls out of the area. Walls turned away from Holmes, drew his pistol, and began shooting at the two teenage victims. Holmes was standing nearby and was also shot. Walls then fled the scene on foot,” according to the news release.

Police obtained a description of a vehicle related to the shooting and made a traffic stop about 20 minutes after the shooting two miles away, police Sgt. Paul Parizek said at a press conference.

Two people stayed in the vehicle and one got out and ran, Parizek said. Police found the suspect with a sniffer dog, he said.

Police say they found a 9mm handgun nearby. “The ammunition magazine in the pistol has a capacity of 31 rounds and contained three,” according to the news release.

Two more people remain in custody while police investigate the incident.

Des Moines, Iowa. Police converged on the scene of a shooting on January 23, 2034.

According to the Starts Right Here website, “Starts Right Here (SRH) is busy inspiring at-risk youth in Des Moines Public Schools and motivating youth through conferences. Will Keeps, President of SRH, performs empowering 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 and address the horrific shooting this afternoon at Starts Right Here, the school program on Southwest 5th St. and is run by a friend from town, Will Keeps, who is recovering tonight in the hospital.” Cownie said in a video statement.

The mayor called the shooting a “repeating story, the tragic story of young lives taken too soon by gun violence.”

The Des Moines Public Schools website says that SRH partners with the school district to assist students in the district’s Choice Academy credit recovery program and to support students who are no longer in a school building. SRH serves 40-50 DMPS students at any given time, the school district said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is listed on the website’s advisory council, said she is “shocked and saddened” by the shooting.

“I am shocked and saddened to learn of the shooting at Starts Right Here. I have seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and her 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 his safe recovery,” Reynolds said in a statement.

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