DES MOINES, Iowa — An 18-year-old who police said was involved in an ongoing gang dispute walked into the common area of an alternative education program for at-risk students and fatally shot two teenagers in a premeditated assault, according to a loading document released Tuesday.
Police said Monday’s shooting also left the founder of the Starts Right Here program in the targeted attack with life-threatening injuries. William Holmes, 49, had surgery and was in serious condition.
On Tuesday, police identified those killed as Gionni Dameron, 18, and Rashad Carr, 16.
Holmes, an activist and rapper who goes by the stage name Will Keeps, joined a gang in Chicago when he was 13, but moved to Iowa more than two decades ago and dedicated his life to helping young people in need, such as he says LinkedIn page.
Preston Walls, 18, of Des Moines, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one each of attempted murder and participation in a criminal gang. He appeared briefly in court on Tuesday and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for February 3.
Walls is jailed on $1 million bail. The Polk County Public Defender’s Office, which will provide its attorney, declined to comment.
Walls was released under supervision for a gun charge and 16 minutes before the shooting, he cut off his ankle monitor, police said.
“There was nothing accidental about this,” said Police Sgt. said Paul Parizek.
Investigators say in the indictment that Walls had a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an extended, high-capacity magazine hidden on him when he entered a common area. The affidavit states that Holmes attempted to escort Walls out, but Walls pulled back, drew the gun, and shot the two teenagers several times.
The document said one victim tried to flee, but Walls chased him and “shot him multiple times.” The document blacked out the victim’s name except for the first letter of the surname, “C,” indicating it was Carr.
Holmes’ family said in a statement on Tuesday that he “has a long recovery ahead of him and we are very grateful for the care he is receiving.”
Despite his injuries, Holmes is “now more determined than ever to continue his work with at-risk youth,” they wrote.
The emergency services saw a suspicious vehicle leaving the area and stopped it. Police said Walls ran but was found hiding in a pile of bushes next to him with the 9mm pistol.
According to the affidavit, the shooting was caught on surveillance video, and Walls’ clothing and his Glock firearm matched those seen on video.
The Starts Right Here board of directors said in a statement that classes have been canceled for the rest of the week and grief counselors will be available.
Despite police claims the shooting was gang-related, Gary Dameron said his son was not involved in a gang, describing him as “family-oriented” and “goofy”.
Dameron said his son and Carr are best friends. He described Carr as “very respectable”, cool and quiet.
Information for this article was contributed by Trisha Ahmed, Jim Salter, and Josh Funk of The Associated Press.