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Two arrests made in fatal Des Moines shooting

 Police cars sit in the parking lot of the business park complex occupied by alternative education program Starts Right Here.
Natalie Krebs
IPR News
Police cars sit in the parking lot of the business park complex occupied by alternative education program Starts Right Here.

Two teenagers were shot and killed Monday at an alternative education program. Police identified an adult who was also shot and seriously injured as the program's founder.

UPDATED: Jan. 30 — Des Moines police have arrested 19-year-old Bravon Michael Tukes in connection with a shooting Monday that left two teens dead and injured the head of an alternative education program.  

Tukes has been charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal gang participation.

Police say Tukes communicated with suspect Preston Walls before and after the shooting, and drove the vehicle in which Walls fled after the shooting.

Walls is accused of shooting and killing two students at the Starts Right Here education program and injuring the program’s president, Will Holmes, professionally known as Will Keeps.

Police say four firearms have been recovered.

First arrest made

Des Moines resident Preston Walls, 18, has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder and criminal gang participation following a fatal shooting that occurred Monday afternoon.

Police say Gionni Dameron, 18, and Rashad Carr, 16, were killed. Both were from Des Moines. An adult who was also shot and seriously injured has been identified as William Holmes, known as Will Keeps, the founder and CEO of Starts Right Here, the alternative education program where the incident occurred.

Keeps is recovering and remains in the hospital in serious condition.

Following an investigation of the incident, police say Walls was present, along with all three victims, at Starts Right Here. He had a 9mm handgun “with an extended ammunition magazine,” according to a police report.

Police say Walls entered a common area where all three victims were located and Keeps attempted to escort him from the area. At that point Walls pulled the handgun and began to shoot both teenage victims and also shot Keeps, who was standing nearby. Walls then reportedly fled the scene on foot.

Patrol officers conducted a traffic stop with a suspicious vehicle seen leaving the area of the shooting. They stopped the vehicle and Walls, who was inside, fled. He was located and taken into custody. The handgun was found nearby.

Police say Walls had cut off a court-ordered GPS ankle monitor, a supervised pretrial release condition following a weapons charge, 16 minutes before the shooting.

Police cited an ongoing gang dispute between Walls and the two deceased students as motivation for the incident.

Two students fatally shot

Two students have been killed in a shooting at Starts Right Here, an alternative education program.

Des Moines Police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Parizek says two students and an adult were shot shortly before 1 p.m. Monday. The adult, a staff member, remains hospitalized in serious condition.

"The officers at the scene did perform CPR till the medics were able to get here, get them up to the hospital. Those two people both students are dead now at the hospital. The third person who is an employee of the school is in serious condition and going into surgery," Parizek said.

Parizek said a vehicle that fled the scene was stopped a couple of miles away and three suspects are in custody.

Starts Right Here works to educate at-risk high school-aged youth in Des Moines. The school was started in 2019 by rapper and activist Will Keeps.

In a statement, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is on the school's advisory board, said she was "shocked and saddened" by the shooting.

"I’ve seen first-hand how hard Will Keeps and his staff works to help at-risk kids through this alternative education program. My heart breaks for them, these kids and their families. Kevin and I are praying for their safe recovery," she wrote.

Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek urged elected officials to take action to eliminate gun violence in a statement.

"Our hearts go out to the victims, families, and school community at Starts Right Here as they endure the unthinkable," Beranek wrote. "We implore our elected leaders to consider effective strategies to eliminate gun violence and pursue concrete solutions that will keep our students, educators, and communities safe. Our schools need to be bastions of safety, not the recipients of violence. This needs to end. As a nation we need to recognize this is societal issue seeping into our schools."

Josie Fischels is a Digital News producer at Iowa Public Radio. She is a 2022 graduate of the University of Iowa’s school of journalism where she also majored in theater arts (and, arguably, minored in the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan). Previously, she interned with the Denver Post in Denver, Colorado, and NPR in Washington, D.C.
Michael Leland is IPR's News Director
Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter