DES MOINES, Iowa — He survived but two of his students did not. Will Keeps, the founder of an Des Moines educational non-profit, can’t stop wishing that he could have done more.
Police say that on January 23rd, Preston Walls, 18, of West Des Moines, walked into Keeps’ organization, Starts Right here, and approached two students. Keeps intervened but couldn’t stop the bullets. Gionni Dameron, 18, and Rashad Carr, 16, died.
One bullet tore off Keeps’ pinkie on his right hand. Doctors have since used the bone from that severed finger and inserted it to replace damaged bone in another finger. Another bullet ripped through Keeps’ hip. The past three weeks have brought slow, painful physical therapy and recovery. But, emotionally, Keeps still struggles.
“I wanted to stop it,” Keeps said, “I wanted to save all their lives…I felt like I didn’t move quick enough.”
Keeps says that he is determined to commit even harder now to helping teens in need. He hopes that community members who have the means will donate so he can expand his outreach. “We need y’all to understand what’s going on with us,” he said.
He hopes that community members will donate like never before so he can expand his organization’s outreach as he believes the fatal shootings prove there is much work left to do.