DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two teenage students were killed Monday and a man was seriously injured in what police said was a targeted shooting at an alternative educational program designed to keep at-risk youth away from trouble. The injured man was identified as the program’s founder — a rapper who left a life of gangs and violence and has been dedicated to helping youth in Des Moines.
Police said Monday that one man had been charged in the shooting, and two other people remained in custody. Preston Walls, 18, of Des Moines, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for the shooting at the Starts Right Here program. He was also charged with criminal gang participation.
Authorities said the shooting was the result of an ongoing gang dispute. Police said Walls was on supervised release for a weapons charge and had removed his ankle monitor 16 minutes before the shooting.
“The incident was definitely targeted. It was not random. There was nothing random about this,” Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
Two Des Moines teens, an 18-year-old male and a 16-year-old male, were killed. William Holmes — a 49-year-old rapper who founded the program and goes by the stage name Will Keeps — was injured and was in surgery Monday evening.
Police said Walls and all three victims were at the school on Monday when Walls entered a common area where Holmes and the two students were. Walls had a 9mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine in his possession, police said, though they did not specify if he was displaying the weapon.
Holmes tried to escort Walls away from the area, but Walls pulled away, “pulled the handgun and began to shoot both teenage victims,” police said in a statement. Holmes was standing nearby and was also shot, then Walls ran away, police said.
Responding officers saw a suspicious vehicle leaving the area. Officers stopped the vehicle. But Walls ran away and was arrested a short time later. Police said a 9mm handgun was found nearby. The ammunition magazine — which has a capacity of 31 rounds — contained three.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said the people in the vehicle with Walls are also teenagers.
“That brings a total of five families of teenagers affected by youth gun violence in a matter of minutes on a Monday afternoon, right here in our capital city,” Cownie said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “This is a growing and alarming phenomenon in our country, and one we’ve seen too often in the past…