Two Teens Died and an Adult Worker Is Hospitalized After a Des Moines Shooting Last Night
Two teenage students are dead and one adult worker injured following a shooting at a Des Moines educational program designed to aid troubled youth. Police suspect it was related to gang activity and targeted the founder of Starts Right Here, affiliated with Des Moines school district. Preston Walls (18) has been charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal gang participation.
According to a press release issued by police, both victims were at the facility to work on their high school diplomas when they were shot. Investigators claim that when an adult employee of the program attempted to escort Walls out of a common area, someone pulled out a handgun and began firing shots at both teenagers – with Walls hit in the head before fleeing from police presence at an area hospital in serious condition – before pulling out his own weapon and opening fire on both of them simultaneously. Police believe both Walls and both victims belonged to different gangs which belonged to rival gangs that existed alongside each other before shooting happened.
KCCI reports on a program called “Starts Right Here.” On its website, this academy serves at-risk youth who wish to obtain their high school diploma, helping them find jobs, housing and develop life skills.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds expressed shock and sadness over the shooting. Nicole Krantz, who works near the program in Des Moines, told KCCI that it was placed under lockdown immediately following the incident; witnesses reported seeing a car leaving that fit witness descriptions as police patrolled foot patrols and patrol cars in response. Walls fled initially but was found shortly thereafter and taken into custody without incident by authorities; police also recovered a 9mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine capable of holding 31 rounds at the scene.
Police believe Walls was on supervised release for weapons charges at the time of his shooting and had taken steps to release himself by taking off his ankle monitor about 16 minutes prior to stopping at Starts Right Here building; Sergeant Paul Parizek stated there was “nothing random about it”.
Friends and neighbors of those killed and wounded at Starts Right Here are remembering them as good kids who loved music, with many seeing it as an example of violence can strike anywhere – adding that this tragedy brings new context for us here in Des Moines, as one neighbor tells KCCI, adding, “you think it can’t happen here, but it does,” one neighbour remarked to KCCI, adding, “it puts things into perspective for us all.” Abbie Lazella contributed this report for KCCI; follow them on social media via Facebook or Twitter accounts @KCCINewsCompass for updates!