2 Students Fatally Shot at Des Moines Outreach Center

Rapper Will Keeps also seriously injured in shooting at program he founded
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 5:25 PM CST
Updated Jan 24, 2023 12:00 AM CST
2 Students Killed in Des Moines Shooting
Des Moines Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek speaks outside the Starts Right Here building, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
UPDATE Jan 24, 2023 12:00 AM CST

An 18-year-old has been charged with murder in the shooting at a Des Moines educational outreach program that killed two students Monday. Preston Walls was also charged with attempted murder; the third victim, who was in surgery Monday night after being injured in the shooting, has been identified as Will Keeps, the rapper who founded the program. The Starts Right Here program is meant to keep at-risk youth out of trouble, and police say the shooting was related to an ongoing gang dispute, the AP reports. Walls was on supervised release for a weapons charge, and police say he removed his ankle monitor minutes before the shooting. Keeps, born William Holmes, reportedly tried to escort Walls away from the common area when he entered, but Walls allegedly started shooting.

Jan 23, 2023 5:25 PM CST

Two students were killed and an employee was seriously injured in what police say was a "targeted" shooting at a Des Moines educational outreach program Monday afternoon. Police spokesperson Paul Parizek said three people were taken into custody when a car was stopped around 20 minutes later, the Des Moines Register reports. Parizek said two suspects remained in the vehicle and a third was tracked down by officers using a K-9. The victims were part of the Starts Right Here program for at-risk youth founded by rapper Will Keeps. Starts Right Here is a partner of Des Moines Public Schools but no DMPS staff were at the outreach center at the time of the shooting, reports KCCI.

Police said the two students died after being hospitalized with critical injuries. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she was "shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting," the AP reports. "I’ve seen first-hand how hard Will Keeps and his staff works to help at-risk kids through this alternative education program," the governor, who serves on an advisory board for Starts Right Here, said in a statement. "My heart breaks for them, these kids and their families."

Starts Right Here serves 40 to 50 students at a time, including some excluded from the school system for behavioral issues, the Register reports. Parizek said at a press conference Monday that Starts Right Here is a program to "pick up the slack" and "help kids who need help the most, the ones who aren’t getting the services that they need for a variety of different reasons," the New York Times reports. "To have it happen here is just, it’s going to be a horrible impact on the community," he said of the shooting. He said that while the motive is unclear, "there was nothing random" about the attack. (Read more Des Moines stories.)

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