DES MOINES, Iowa (HPD) — Two teenage students were killed and a man critically injured Monday in what police say was a targeted shooting at an alternative education institution in Iowa to keep students at-risk youth out of trouble.
The man was identified as the program’s founder, William Holmes, a rapper going by the stage name Will Keeps who gave up a life of gangs and violence to dedicate himself to helping youth in Des Moines.
A man was charged in the shooting and two other people remained in custody, police said. Preston Walls, 18, of Des Moines, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for what happened on the Starts Right Here program. In addition, he was charged with another crime of belonging to a criminal gang.
According to authorities, the shooting was the result of a gang dispute. Police said Walls was on supervised release on a firearms possession charge and had removed the electronic anklet 16 minutes before the shooting.
“The incident had a clear objective. It was not random. There was nothing random about this,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek.
Two Des Moines teens, ages 18 and 16, died and Holmes, 49, underwent surgery Monday night.
According to police, Walls and the victims were at school Monday when Walls entered a common area where the other three were. The shooter had in his possession a 9mm pistol with an extended magazine, authorities added, without specifying whether he had displayed the weapon.
Holmes tried to lead Walls from the scene, but Walls wriggled free, “pulled out his pistol and began shooting at the two teenage victims,” police said in a statement. Holmes, who was standing nearby, was also hit by bullets before Walls fled, he added.
The agents who went to the scene saw a suspicious vehicle leave the area and other agents stopped it. But Walls ran off and was apprehended shortly after. Police said a 9mm pistol was found nearby. The charger, with a capacity for 31 bullets, contained only three.
For his part, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said the people in the car with Walls were also teenagers.
Walls has not yet appeared in court. At this time it was not clear if he had an attorney speaking on his behalf.