Arrest made in shooting deaths at Starts Right Here program in downtown Des Moines

Two students were shot dead and the founder of the at-risk program was wounded, which rocked the Des Moines community.

UPDATE: Des Moines Police on Tuesday released the names and photos of the two teens killed in a shooting Monday at Starts Right Here, an education program in downtown Des Moines. Gionni Dameron, 18 and Rashad Carr, 16, both of Des Moines, were killed in the shooting. Rapper and program president Will Keeps, who was shot in the incident, remains hospitalized. Two people who were being detained by the police have been released without charges, police said.

(From left: Gionni Dameron, 18; and Rashad Carr, 16, both of Des Moines. Source: Des Moines Police.

Just over three weeks into the new year, Des Moines homicides have climbed to six, after two teens were killed, and a nonprofit program’s president was wounded, Des Moines police reported Monday.

The shooting happened a 12:53 p.m. at Starts Right Here, a nonprofit program for at-risk youth located in downtown Des Moines. The program’s president, rapper Will (Holmes) Keeps, was shot and is in serious condition, police said, in a press release. The male victims were ages 16 and 18. Officers took multiple suspects into custody following a traffic stop.

Police arrested Preston Walls, an 18-year old Des Moines resident. He has been charged with two counts of 1st-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal gang participation, according to police.

“I am shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Starts Right Here. 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,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds in a press release.

Reynolds is listed as a member of Keeps’ advisory board. Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert is listed as a board member for Starts Right Here, according to the group’s website.

Location of the Starts Right Here program. Source: Google Maps.

Police said Walls took a 9 mm handgun with an extended ammunition magazine into a common area where all three victims were located. Keeps attempted to escort him from the area, but Walls pulled away and began to shoot both teens and Keeps before he fled on foot, police said.

Police said Walls “and both deceased victims” are known gang members, belonging to opposing gangs, and “evidence indicates” the crimes were the result of an “ongoing gang dispute.” Police are continuing to investigate.

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