DES MOINES, Iowa – Police have released two of the three people originally detained in a gang-related shooting at a Des Moines education center Monday that left two students dead, and a community activist seriously injured.
Eighteen-year-old Preston Walls is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, and criminal gang participation in the shooting at Starts Right Here, according to Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department. On Tuesday, Sgt. Parizek said two other people who were originally taken into custody with Walls have not been charged.
Walls is accused of opening fire inside the building of Starts Right Here at 455 SW 5th Street shortly after 12:50 p.m. Monday. The educational program was started by Will Keeps, to help at-risk youth in the community. He was injured in the shooting and remains hospitalized.
Two male students at the center, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, were shot and died from their injuries.
Sgt. Parizek said Walls was wearing a court-ordered GPS ankle monitor as a condition of pre-trial release in a separate weapons-related case, which he cut off about 16 minutes prior to the shooting.
Witnesses were able to describe the vehicle Walls fled the scene in and it was located about 20 minutes later near MacRae Park. Walls ran from the vehicle, but he was found a short time later and taken into custody without incident.
Walls is being held in Polk County Jail and is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
The motive for the shooting is believed to be gang-related, according to Sgt. Parizek. Walls and the two victims who died were known to be members of rival gangs.
“We’re really good at investigating crime, We’re really good at taking people to jail, getting guns off the street. But when it comes to the things that cause people to make these decisions or cause people to find themselves in the circumstances that life sometimes brings them. We can’t help with that a lot. That’s something that the community … it has to be a community-based approach. I feel like a broken record, because we’ve been saying this, I know I’ve said it to all you local guys at least once. We’ve got to get everybody around the table and start finding solutions to this because the police cannot do it all,” said Sgt. Parizek.
Keeps, the CEO and founder of Starts Right Here, is an anti-violence advocate and opened the non-profit program to help keep kids out of trouble.
In a previous interview, Keeps told us he wanted it to be a place for kids to escape chaos.
“I want them to have hope when they come in. But when they leave out of here, I want that hope to become realistic. I want that to become real,” said Keeps.