Editor’s note: Police had previously referred to the program as a ‘charter school’. The story has been updated.
DES MOINES, IOWA – Two students are dead following a shooting at a Des Moines non-profit program for teens on Monday afternoon. Police were called to Starts Right Here at 455 SW 5th Street at 12:53 pm after multiple 911 callers reported a shooting.
Police arrived on scene to find three people suffering gunshot wounds. Two students were taken from the scene in “very critical condition”; those students died from their injuries at the hospital. The third person injured – an adult school employee – was taken from the scene in serious condition and is currently undergoing surgery. The names of the shooting victims have not been released.
Three people were taken into custody about two miles from the scene. Police tracked a vehicle to an apartment complex on the south side of Des Moines. Two suspects stayed in the vehicle and were taken into custody. A third person ran from the car but was quickly captured thanks to a police canine. Police have not released the suspects’ names. They do say the shooting was targeted and not a random act.
Starts Right Here is a non-profit youth program that serves at-risk youth in need of special outreach in Des Moines. It was started by community organizer Will Keeps; Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert sits on the school’s board. The program’s mission statement reads:
“Starts Right Here educates, equips, and empowers young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances using the arts, entertainment, hip hop, music, programs, and a variety of other methods to break down the barriers of fear, intimidation, and other damaging factors leading to a sense of being disenfranchised, forgotten and rejected.”
The two shooting victims are the fifth and sixth criminal homicide victims in the city of Des Moines in 2023. Des Moines Police say they’ve investigated eight homicides in the last two months.