DES MOINES, Iowa — Eighteen-year-old Preston Walls is under arrest on suspicion of murdering two teenagers and injuring an administrator inside of a Des Moines education center Monday afternoon.
Des Moines Police say Walls cut off his ankle monitor before entering the Starts Right Here education center at 455 SW 5th Street while carrying a 9mm handgun. They say Starts Right Here CEO and founder Will Keeps attempted to restrain Walls, but Walls was still able to fire a series of shots before escaping.
An 18-year-old male and a 16-year-old male, both of Des Moines, died in the shooting. Keeps remains hospitalized in serious condition.
Police located a car of interest near MacRae Park less than twenty minutes after the shooting, thanks to details from witnesses at Starts Right Here. Walls fled from the vehicle and was located a short time later and taken into custody without incident.
Two people who remained in the vehicle were detained by police, but Tuesday morning Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department said they were released without charges.
Walls faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and criminal gang participation. Police also believe the two victims who died were involved in gang activity, which may have been a motive for the crime.
Keeps founded Starts Right Here as an educational alternative to keep troubled Des Moines teenagers heading in the right direction. Both parents and police are angry that a deadly shooting happened inside its walls.
“This is sad,” said DeAndre Smith, who has a child in the Starts Right Here program. “He tried to make the program for these kids. The dude has it going on, he has a studio and everything for these kids. Why did they come in there to act like that?”
“We’ve got these few safe spaces that we consider sacred, and now this has happened here,” said Sgt. Parizek. “We’re losing a generation of kids, and we’ve got to as a community get our arms wrapped around them.”