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Two students dead and teacher injured in Des Moines shooting, suspect in custody

A shooting at a street work center in Des Moines, Iowa, left two students dead and an employee injured, according to police.

The shooting occurred Monday during a program called Starts Right Here, which is affiliated with the Des Moines school district, the Associated Press reported. The program is held at a business park in the city.

Authorities were called to the facility around 1 p.m. local time and performed CPR on the two students, who later died in hospital. The teacher was admitted in critical condition, according to the AP.

On Monday, the police announced that three suspects have been arrested. Included among those three was 18-year-old Preston Walls, who was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of joining criminal gangs, according to KCCI. On Tuesday, the local news outlet reported that the other two people detained by police had been released without charge.

“I am shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Starts Right Here,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement. “I have seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his staff work to help at-risk children through this alternative education program. My heart breaks for them, these children and their families. Kevin and I are praying for a safe recovery.”

Other Iowa officials expressed their pain after the shooting.

“I am saddened to hear of the shooting at Starts Right Here in Des Moines,” wrote the state’s U.S. Senator, Joni Ernst, on Twitter. “I’ve seen the positive impact Will Keeps and his staff have on young Iowans. I keep all those affected in my prayers.”

Mr. Keeps founded the Starts Right Here program, which targets at-risk high school youth.

The center provides mentorship, career counseling, financial literacy training and other services to students with the goal of “creating a pool of workers who are trained, equipped and empowered to build successful lives,” according to the program’s website.

Deandre Smith, whose daughter attends a youth program at Starts Right Here, told Local 5 News that one of the victims was Mr Keeps.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” he said. “All I know is that some kids came here and shot some other kids and Will Keeps.”

“I’m sad, this is sad,” Mr Smith added.

“We are saddened to hear of another act of gun violence, especially one that affects an organization that works closely with some of our students,” the Des Moines public school system said in a statement, KCCI reports. “We are still awaiting more details, but our thoughts are with all the victims of this incident and their families and friends. Starts Right Here is a valuable partner to DMPS, doing important work to help us re-engage students, and we stand ready to support them at this critical time.”

Police apprehended the suspects in their car near MacRae Park, about two miles from the scene of the shooting Des Moines Registry reports, prompting one of the individuals to flee before being caught by an officer with a sniffer dog.

Bystanders said they also saw police chasing a person on foot from the Starts Right Here building.

“We just saw a lot of police cars pouring in from all over,” Nicole Krantz, who works as a coder in a building next door, told the Registry. “It’s terrifying. We are all concerned. Of course we locked. We were all told to stay away from the windows because we weren’t sure if they had caught the man.”

Sergeant Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department told reporters the incident was a targeted shooting.

“There was nothing random about it, it was definitely a targeted incident,” he said. “As for a motive, we’re going to try to figure that out.”

“The school is designed to take the slack and help children who need the help the most, those who for various reasons are not getting the services they need,” he added. “For it to happen here will have a terrible impact on the community.”

Iowa lawmakers observed a moment of silence Monday afternoon regarding the shooting.

The deadly violence follows a mass shooting in California over the weekend that killed nearly a dozen people at a dance club as revelers celebrated the Lunar New Year.

Activists against gun violence said the shooting was indicative of America’s larger problem with gun access that puts youth at risk.

“We have barely breathed and processed the shootings in Monterey Park and Baton Rouge – yet another community is now hurting,” the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence wrote in a statement. pronunciation on Monday.

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