A shooting at an educational program for at-risk youth in Des Moines, Iowa, left two students dead and the program’s founder seriously injured, authorities said
At 12:53 pm Monday, Police and fire personnel responded to a report of a shooting at 455 SW 5th Street, which houses the non-profit called Starts Right Here, Des Moines police said in a news release.
They found the shooting victims, who were taken to hospitals. The names of the slain were not released.
Police didn’t 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 know as “Will Keeps.” Police said he was in serious condition.
Police got 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 news conference.
Two people stayed in the vehicle and one got out and ran, Parizek said. Police found the suspect with a tracking dog, he said.
Parizek did not identify the suspects or say if they had been charged.
“We’ve got two people dead, so we’re looking at the most serious charges,” he said.
The motive has not yet been released by the police.
“The incident was definitely targeted,” Parizek said. “It was not random. There’s nothing random about this. It was certainly a targeted incident. But as far as getting motivated, that is something that we are going to try and figure out.”
According to Starts Right Here’s website, “Starts Right Here (SRH) is busy inspiring at-risk youth in the Des Moines Public Schools and motivating youth through speaking events. Will Keeps, SRH President, 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 it is run by a friend of the city, Will Keeps, who is recovering tonight in the hospital,” Cownie said in a video statement.
The mayor called the shooting a “story that repeats itself—the tragic story of young lives taken far too soon by gun violence.”
The Des Moines Public Schools website says SRH partners with the school district to help students in the district’s Options 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 board, said she is “shocked and saddened” about the shooting.
“I am shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Starts Right Here. I’ve seen first-hand how hard Will Keeps and his staff works to help at-risk kids through this alternative education program. My heart breaks for them, these kids and their families. Kevin and I are praying for their safe recovery,” Reynolds said in a statement.