What happened at Starts Right Here nonprofit? Shooting in Des Moines educational center leaves 2 dead and 1 injured

A January 23, 2023 shooting at the nonprofit Starts Right Here educational center in Des Moines, Iowa, resulted in the deaths of two students and serious injuries to another, according to a police statement.

According to Des Moines authorities, on Monday, January 23, the shooter, identified as 18-year-old Preston Walls, shot and killed two young men, ages 18 and 16, at Starts Right Here, a nonprofit focused on in helping at-risk youth.

The third victim, who was injured in the crossfire, was identified as R&B hip hop artist William Holmes, 49, founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization. Police said Holmes was in critical condition at a hospital.

According to police, the suspect, armed with a 9mm pistol with an extended ammunition clip, entered the nonprofit’s common area and began shooting at the two teens after Holmes attempted to escort him out of the building. .

The deceased victims and the suspect were allegedly rival gang members, according to authorities who classified the incident as a gang-related attack.

Preston Walls, a Des Moines resident, was charged in connection with the shooting at the school.

Authorities charged 18-year-old Des Moines resident Preston Walls with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal gang involvement. Walls is accused of killing two teens at the nonprofit Starts Right Here, a Des Moines Public Schools partner since 2021.

Des Moines police spokesman Paul Parizek said in a news release Monday that the attack on the nonprofit was the result of a dispute between rival gang members. Expanding on the incident, the statement read:

“Walls, and both deceased victims, are known gang members, belonging to opposing gangs, and the evidence indicates that these crimes were committed as a result of an ongoing gang dispute.”

William Holmes, the founder of the non-profit organization, was reportedly caught in the crossfire and rushed to an area hospital. He remains in critical condition.

After the incident, Walls allegedly fled the scene in a car with two other people and was tracked by a K-9 officer to the 1300 block of River Vista Drive.

The suspect was then taken into custody, along with the other people in the car, who were released without charge. The suspect, however, was booked into the Polk County Jail. Police have not released a motive for the attack, but believe it was not an isolated incident.

Starts Right Here (SRH), a nonprofit organization, was started by R&B artist William Holmes to empower and motivate at-risk youth who are unable to attend school. The school works in partnership with Des Moines Public Schools to assist students in the district’s Choice Academy credit recovery program. Des Moines Public Schools Acting Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement:

“We are still waiting to learn more details, but our thoughts are with the victims of this incident and their families and friends. Starts Right Here is a valued partner for DMPS, doing important work to help us re-engage students, and We are here to support you during this critical time.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on the nonprofit’s advisory board, issued a statement in which she regretted the shooting that occurred a day after two mass shootings rocked the country.