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DES MOINES, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday blamed the state’s “educational system” for playing a partial role in the fatal shooting of one teenager and serious injury of two others last week. Authorities say most of those involved were not enrolled in school, however.

The shooting happened on Monday, March 7th at 2:48 pm. Des Moines Police say six teens, aged 14 to 18, opened fire on 15-year-old Jose David Lopez – hitting and killing him and injuring two teen girls. Police say that Lopez was the intended target of the shooting. Lopez was not a Des Moines public school student, nor were four of the six teens charged with his death. The two girls who were injured were East High students. Des Moines Police say the shooting was gang-related.

On Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds weighed in on the shooting, saying the “real” tragedy is that those involved weren’t in school that day. “The tragedy is our educational system is letting these kids down. They should have been in school,” Reynolds said following a press conference announcing airport funding, “We should be figuring out resources to help them stay there and to help them get an education and a get life where they can take care of themselves and their family.”

On Wednesday afternoon one of the top Democrats in the Iowa legislature responded to the governor, calling her statements “reprehensible”. House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst released a statement saying in part:

“Even in the face of a tragic school shooting, Governor Reynolds refuses to stop playing politics. Her recent comments placing blame on public schools for the high school shooting last week are reprehensible. Iowans know the real tragedy is that a 15 year-old has died and two remain in the hospital. We pray and mourn with the families affected and the community at East High. Instead of using our Iowa values to bring us together, Reynolds is using this tragedy to vilify teachers and drive Iowans apart. The parents, students, teachers, and staff at East High School deserve better.”

State Rep. Jennifer Konfrst
(D) Windsor Heights

The governor said she doesn’t believe that any review of Iowa gun laws would be necessary in response to the shooting because the kids involved all illegally accessed guns. Instead, Reynolds pivoted the issue back to schools themselves.

“That’s where we need to focus,” Reynolds said, “How do we get these kids in school, get them the education that they need and set them up to be successful, not set them up for jail or a life of crime.”