Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include corrected information from police about Starts Right Here.
DES MOINES, IOWA (WHO) – Two students are dead after a shooting at a Des Moines, Iowa non-profit program for teens on Monday afternoon.
Police were called to Starts Right Here, an educational program affiliated with the Des Moines school district, shortly before 1 p.m. local time after multiple 911 callers reported a shooting. Officers found three people suffering gunshot wounds when they arrived on the scene.
Two victims, identified as students, were taken from the scene in “very critical condition.” Police later confirmed that those students died from their injuries at the hospital.
The third injured person, an adult program employee, was taken from the scene in serious condition and was undergoing surgery Monday afternoon.
The names of the shooting victims have not been released.
Roughly 20 minutes after the shooting, police say three people were taken into custody about two miles away from the scene. Authorities were able to track a vehicle to an apartment complex on the south side of Des Moines. Two suspects stayed in the vehicle and were taken into custody. A third person ran from the car but was quickly captured thanks to a police K9 unit. Police have not released the suspects’ names.
“The incident was definitely targeted. It was not random. There was nothing random about this,” Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
Starts Right Here is a non-profit youth program that serves at-risk youth in need of special outreach in Des Moines. It was started by community organizer Will Holmes, a rapper whose stage name is Will Keeps. Des Moines Police Chief Dana Winter sits on the school’s board.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on an advisory board for Starts Right Here, said she was “shocked and saddened to hear about 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,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My heart breaks for them, these kids and their families. Kevin and I are praying for their safe recovery.”
The program’s mission statement reads:
“Starts Right Here educates, equips, and empowers young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances using the arts, entertainment, hip hop, music, programs, and a variety of other methods to break down the barriers of fear, intimidation, and other damaging factors leading to a sense of being disenfranchised, forgotten and rejected.”
The two shooting victims are the fifth and sixth criminal homicide victims in the city of Des Moines in 2023. Des Moines Police say they’ve investigated eight homicides in the last two months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.