Two students died and an adult employee was injured Monday at a Des Moines school dedicated to helping at-risk youth.
The shoot was done with an educational program called Starts Right Here, which is affiliated with the Des Moines School District. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cowney told the city council Monday night that the injured adult was the program’s founder, rapper William Holmes, who goes by the stage name Will Keeps.
“We all wish Will the best,” Cowney said. Another story of a young life taken too soon by gun violence.
“Two teenagers died tonight due to this violence. Just a short time ago I spoke with their families and offered our community support and thoughts and prayers. Few people can say it eases their pain,” he said. “I can’t say that I will resurrect them who were killed for no reason.”
He called on city council members to observe a moment of silence for the victims.
Police said emergency services were called to the school located in the business park just before 1:00 p.m. When officers arrived, they found two students seriously injured and immediately began CPR. have started. Two students died in hospital. The adult employee, later identified by the mayor as Keeps, was in a serious condition and was headed for surgery Monday afternoon.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, police said they stopped a vehicle matching the description of a witness about 2 miles (3.22 km) away and detained the three. Police said one person fled the vehicle, but officers pursued him with a K-9.
“The incident was definitely targeted. It wasn’t random. There was nothing random about this,” Sgt. Paul Palizek said.
The Starts Right Here program to help at-risk youth in grades 9-12 was launched in 2021 by Keeps.
“This school is designed to help children who need it most,” said Palizek.
According to the website of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the region’s economic and community development organization, Keeps came to Des Moines from Chicago about 20 years ago and “lived in a world of gangs and violence” before finding solace through music. I was there.” .
According to the partnership, the Starts Right Here movement “aims to use arts, entertainment, music, hip-hop and other programs to encourage and educate young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive situations. It teaches literacy and helps students prepare for job interviews and improve their communication skills. Breaking down the barriers of other harmful factors.”
According to the school’s website, 70% of its students are minorities and it has 28 alumni since opening. According to the school district, the program always serves between her 40 and her 50 students. The district said no district employees were at the scene at the time of the shooting.
Interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement, “We are saddened to learn of the acts of gun violence, especially those that affect organizations that work closely with some of our students. While we wait to know, our thoughts are with the victims of this incident and their families and friends.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on Starts Right Here’s advisory board, said he was “shocked and saddened to hear about the shootings.” Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert is on the Starts Right Here committee, according to the program’s website.
“I have seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his staff are working to help at-risk children through this alternative education program,” Reynolds said in a statement. , the children and their families are heartbreaking. Kevin and I wish them a safe recovery.”
Nicole Krantz said her office near the school was cordoned off shortly after the shooting, and she saw people fleeing the building with police on foot and in patrol cars.
“I just saw a bunch of police cars coming out of nowhere,” Krantz told the Des Moines Register. “It’s terrifying. We’re all worried. Obviously, we’ve locked up. We were told to stay away from the window because we weren’t sure if we caught the man.”
According to Education Week, which tracks school shootings, this is the sixth time people have been injured or killed in a school shooting in the United States this year, but the first to result in a fatality. Yes. There were 51 school shootings with injuries or deaths last year, up from 150 since 2018, according to the website.
Another shooting outside a Des Moines high school last March killed a student and seriously injured two teenagers. Ten people, aged between 14 and 18 at the time of the shooting, were subsequently charged. Five of them have pleaded guilty to various charges related to the shooting.