Police: 2 students dead, man wounded in Des Moines shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa — Two teenage students were killed Monday and a man critically injured in what police said was a targeted shooting at an alternative education program designed to keep at-risk youth out of trouble. The injured man was identified as the founder of the program, a rapper who left a life of gangs and violence and has dedicated himself to helping youth in Des Moines.

Police said Monday that a man had been charged with the shooting and that 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 shooting at the Starts Right Here program. He was also accused of participation in criminal gangs.

Authorities said the shooting was the result of an ongoing gang dispute. Police said Walls was on supervised release on a weapons charge and had removed the monitor from his ankle 16 minutes before the shooting.

“The incident was definitely a target. It was not random. There was nothing random about this,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

Two Des Moines teenagers, an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old man, were killed. William Holmes, a 49-year-old rapper who founded the show and goes by the name Will Keeps, was injured and underwent surgery Monday night.

Police said Walls and the three victims were at school Monday when Walls entered a common area where Holmes and the two students were. Walls had a 9mm pistol with an extended ammunition clip in his possession, police said, though they did not specify whether he was displaying the weapon.

Holmes tried to escort Walls out of the area, but Walls stepped away, “pulled out his gun and began shooting at the two 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. The agents stopped the vehicle.

But Walls got away and was arrested a short time later. Police said a 9mm pistol 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 teens 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 we have seen it all too often in the past and again today in the city of Des Moines.”