DES MOINES, IOWA — Students returned to class at Des Moines East High School on Wednesday for the first time since a two classmates were shot and another teen killed outside the school. Des Moines Police say six teens fired more than 40 shots at 15-year-old Jose Lopez in a targeted gang-related shooting on March 7th at the end of the school day. Lopez – who was not enrolled in school – was killed. Two East High students – Kemery Ortega and Jessica Lopez – were seriously injured and remain hospitalized.
The school was closed for the rest of the week following the shooting and then for Spring Break since then. Wednesday marked the first time that students were welcomed back to the hallways. “East High School has gone through a great tragedy, but we’ve shown great strength,” said East High senior and student leader Marisol Argueta-Hernandez, “When we have now and will continue to always have East High School Scarlets are so so strong, but we shouldn’t have to be. We hope for a better future for our students and staff for the next generations to come. And for those everywhere.”
Des Moines Schools’ Assistant Superintendent Matt Smith says the school is making security changes in the wake of the shooting. Des Moines Police are increasing their patrols in the area and the school is also looking at adding additional surveillance.
“We’ve also began to look at cameras and adding more security on the outside of the building, looking into the streets further down,” says Smith, “That will provide a little bit more support through camera footage. We will continue to add and acquire more equipment to add some of those cameras for the safety and security of our students and our community and our families.”
East Principal Jill Versteeg is urging anyone looking for a way to help following the shooting to look for volunteer opportunities. “If you feel compelled, if you would like please get involved with us volunteer,” she said, “Nothing shows your community and your students that you care about their education as much as giving of your time when possible.”