Two students were killed and another person is in critical condition after a shooting at a Des Moines school on Monday.
According to the Des Moines Register, the incident occurred shortly before 1 p.m. at Starts Right Here, an educational mentorship program affiliated with the city’s school district, which focuses on helping at-risk youth in grades 9-12. When officers arrived at the scene, CPR was performed on two students, ages 16 and 18, who were critically injured. They were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Starts Right Here founder and CEO Will Holmes, who performs under the stage name Will Keeps, has been identified as the third victim. He remains hospitalized in serious condition.
Around 1:20 p.m., authorities located a vehicle that matched witnesses’ descriptions about two miles away from the site of the shooting. When the car was stopped, two teenage passengers remained inside while a third individual attempted to flee on foot. That person was eventually tracked down with the help of a K-9. All three have been taken into custody.
Police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Parizek said in a news release that 18-year-old Preston Walls has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and criminal gang participation. Walls allegedly started shooting in the direction of the two slain teenagers with a 9mm handgun after Holmes tried to escort him out of the building.
Parizek suspects the teenagers involved in the shooting were from rival gangs. “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 sergeant said.
“We are saddened to learn of another act of gun violence, especially one that impacts an organization that works closely with some of our students,” Des Moines interim superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement, obtained by the Associated Press. We are still waiting to learn more details, but our thoughts are with any victims of this incident and their families and friends.”