At least nine people were killed in three separate shootings in the United States on Jan. 23, just days after 11 people were killed late Saturday at a ballroom in Southern California. While seven people were killed in two related shootings at a mushroom farm and a trucking company in a coastal community south of San Francisco, two teenage college students were killed in a shootout, police say, targeted at an alternative education program designed to keep on-risk youth away from Trouble, in Iowa in Des Moines.
Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said four people were killed at the farm and three at the trucking deal on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay, a city about 30 miles south of San Francisco. A suspect is in custody, officials said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the sites were connected.
California Senator Josh Becker, who represents the area, said people were killed in separate shootings. San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa tweeted that a shooting took place at a mushroom farm.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office tweeted just before 5 p.m. that a suspect was in custody.
“There is no ongoing threat to the community at this time,” the sheriff’s office said.
Television footage from the area showed officers taking a man into custody without incident.
Aerial images from television also showed police officers gathering evidence from a farm with dozens of greenhouses.
“We are disgusted by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,” said Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, in a statement Gun Violence Must Stop.
Meanwhile, in Des Moines, Iowa, two teenagers died and a man was seriously wounded in a gunfight at an alternative education program. The injured man has been identified as the program’s founder – a rapper who had emerged from a life of violence and dedicated himself to youth ministry in Des Moines.
Three people were arrested shortly after the shooting at the Starts Right Here educational program, police said. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie identified the injured adult as William Holmes – who goes by the stage name Will Keeps – and said the victims and those arrested were all teenagers.
“That brings a total of five families of teenagers affected by youth gun violence right here in our capital city in a matter of minutes on a Monday afternoon,” Cownie said. “This is a growing and alarming phenomenon in our country, and one we’ve seen too many times in the past and again today in the city of Des Moines.”
Cownie observed a minute’s silence for the victims. He said he spoke to her family members. “But there is little that can be said to ease her pain. Nothing to bring them back, those who were so senselessly killed.”
Starts Right Here is an educational program affiliated with the Des Moines School District. Police said emergency teams were called to the school, which is located in an industrial estate, just before 1 p.m. Officers arrived to find two students seriously injured and they immediately began CPR. The two students died in a hospital. The adult, later identified as Keeps by the mayor, was in serious condition and police said he underwent surgery Monday night.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, police said officers stopped a car that matched descriptions from witnesses about 2 miles away and took three people into custody. Police said one person ran from the car, but officers tracked that person down with a K-9.
“The incident was definitely targeted. It wasn’t accidental. There was nothing accidental about that,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek. But he said the motive for the shooting was unknown.
The Starts Right Here program, which serves at-risk youth in grades 9-12, was founded by Keeps in 2021.
“The school is designed to fill the gap and help the children who need help most,” Parizek said. Police did not say whether the detained teenagers were students in the program.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership, the economic and community development organization for the area, says on its website that Keeps came to Des Moines from Chicago about 20 years ago, where he “lived in a world of gangs and violence” before breaking through music found healing.
The partnership said the Starts Right Here movement “seeks to encourage and educate young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances through the use of arts, entertainment, music, hip-hop and other programs. It also teaches financial literacy and helps students prepare for job interviews and improve their communication skills. The ultimate goal is to break down barriers of fear, intimidation, and other harmful factors that lead to feelings of disenfranchisement, oblivion, and rejection.”
According to the program’s website, one of the Keeps’ songs, “Wake Up Iowa,” sends out the message that “violence and hate are not the way of Iowa, and instead we must learn from other cities’ mistakes lest we end up of.” violence and crime.”
The school’s website states that 70% of the students it serves are from minorities and it has had 28 graduates since its inception. The school district said the program is serving 40 to 50 students at any given time. The county said no county officials were on site at the time of the shooting.
Interim Superintendent Matt Smith said in a statement: “We are saddened to learn of another act of gun violence, particularly one involving an organization that works closely with some of our students. We are still awaiting further details but our thoughts are with all the victims of this incident and their families and friends.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who serves on an advisory board to Starts Right Here, said she was “shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting.” According to the program’s website, Des Moines Police Commissioner Dana Wingert is on the board of directors of Starts Right Here.
“I’ve seen firsthand how hard Will Keeps and his staff work to help at-risk children through this alternative education program,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My heart breaks for them, these children and their families.”
Nicole Krantz said her office near the school was cordoned off immediately after the shooting and she saw someone run out of the building who was being followed by police on foot and in squad cars.
“We just saw a lot of police cars pouring in from everywhere,” Krantz told the Des Moines Register. “It’s scary. We’re all worried. Of course we went into lockdown. We were all told to stay away from the windows because we weren’t sure they got the guy.”
The shooting was the sixth this year at a US school in which someone was injured or killed, but the first with fatalities, according to Education Week, which tracks school shootings. According to the website, there were 51 school shootings last year that resulted in injuries or deaths, and that number has risen to 150 since 2018. The worst school shooting last year killed 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Another shooting outside a Des Moines high school last March killed one student and seriously injured two other teenagers. Ten people – all aged between 14 and 18 at the time of the shooting – were subsequently charged. Five of them have pleaded guilty to various charges related to the shooting.