starts right here

Two students shot to death at Des Moines at-risk program

Jan. 23, 2023
The founder of the program, Starts Right Here, was wounded in the gunfire.

Two students were fatally shot Monday afternoon at an educational mentorship program in Des Moines, Iowa, that supports at-risk youth.

The Des Moines Register reports that an adult employee at the Starts Right Here program was wounded in the gunfire and was in serious condition.

UPDATE: The wounded employee was identified as the founder of the program, William Holmes — a rapper who goes by the stage name Will Keeps, the Associated Press reports.

Preston Walls, 18, has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Police say the fatalities were a 16-year-old male and an 18-year-old male. Their identities were not disclosed.

Police said Walls was on supervised pre-trial release on a weapons charge and had removed an ankle bracelet 16 minutes before he went to the school with a gun and confronted the victims. Police said Walls and the two students had gang affiliations and were in opposing gangs.

Starts Right Here started in 2021 in a partnership with the Des Moines school district. It seeks to re-engage students in the district’s Options Academy credit recovery program, the school district said in a news release. It said the group supports students who are no longer in a school building because of behavioral issues.

The program serves 40 to 50 students at any given time, with the district providing educational programming. the school district said. No Des Moines district personnel were at Starts Right Here when the shootings occurred. 

MORE: Video from Des Moines Register:

Video from Starts Right Here:

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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