An alternative educational program, Starts Right Here, that intended to keep at-risk youth from Des Moines Public Schools out of trouble was the target of a shooting on Monday. The shooting left two teenage students dead, and a man critically injured, according to the police.
The program’s creator, Will Keeps, a 49-year rapper who turned his back on a life of crime and violence to devote himself to assisting young people in Des Moines, was injured in the shooting. A 16-year-old and an 18-year-old from rival gangs were shot dead inside the school. Preston Walls, an 18-year-old gang member from Iowa, has been charged with two counts of murder.
Keeps, whose legal last name is Holmes, spotted the 9mm handgun with an extended magazine that Walls, a known gang member was carrying, as he led Walls out of the structure. Walls then turned around and fired at the two teenagers, despite Holmes’ attempts to escort him away from the scene.
The activist and school advocate were also seriously hurt and is still in the hospital. When officers arrived, they discovered two students who were critically injured. They immediately began CPR, but the two succumbed to their injuries.
Authorities claimed that an ongoing gang dispute was the cause of the shooting. Police reported that Walls, who was on supervised release for a weapons charge, had taken off his ankle monitor 16 minutes prior to the shooting. According to Sgt. Paul Parizek, the incident was targeted.
After the shooting, Walls fled from the scene, according to police. He was later apprehended. A 9mm handgun, according to the police, was discovered nearby.
Three were in the magazine of ammunition, which holds thirty-one rounds. The passengers in the car with Walls, according to Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, were also adolescents. Walls has not yet appeared in court.
In a July 2021 interview, Holmes stated that Starts Right Here focuses on assisting troubled children in accessing mental health services, educational opportunities, and job assistance, among other services. Through the district’s Options Academy, a program that emphasizes academic credit recovery, Des Moines Public Schools and Starts Right Here collaborated in 2021 to reengage students who might not finish the program without assistance.
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