DES MOINES, Iowa — Authorities arrested six teenagers who were charged shoot in a group who gathered outside an Iowa high school, killing a 15-year-old boy and seriously injuring two teenage girls, police said on Tuesday.
The suspects are each charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder Monday afternoon on the compound of East High School near downtown Des Moines, about 0.5 miles from the Capitol. Police said shots fired in front of the school came from multiple gunmen from multiple vehicles.
Police named the suspects as Octavio Lopez, 17; Henry Valladares-Amaya, 17; Manuel Buezo, 16; Romero Perdomo, 16; Alex Perdomo, 15; and Nyang Chamdual, 14. All are from Des Moines and the school district has not identified any as an East student.
Police identified the 15-year-old who was killed as Jose David Lopez of Des Moines.
Lopez, who was not a student at the school, was the intended target of the car shooting, police said. The other two shots are women, 16 and 18, both visiting East and were among a group who were standing with Lopez when they were accidentally shot, police said. Police had not released the names of the surviving victims as of Tuesday afternoon.
Police said the 16-year-old girl remained hospitalized in a serious condition on Tuesday, while the 18-year-old remained hospitalized in critical condition.
“While this incident happened outside of a school, it could have happened in any of our neighborhoods,” police said. “The school is where the suspects found their target.”
Police said search warrants were issued in five Des Moines homes and six vehicles in the hours after the shooting. Investigators seized six firearms during those searches, police said.
According to court documents, the shooting was caught by a neighborhood camera. It showed a group of five teenagers gathered near a curb as three vehicles drove by and then turned back, with people inside firing multiple shots at the group.
Surveillance footage also showed vehicles matching the description of the firing range exiting another location and then returning shortly after the firing. According to court documents, the footage showed people involved in the shooting.
Investigators recovered about 20 spent shell casings at the scene of the shooting and found another 15 in the vehicles that police said were used in the shooting.
On the day of the shooting, calls came in around 2:50 p.m. Monday, just before classes were scheduled to close for the day, police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
The district said in a press release that the school immediately went on lockdown and students stayed inside while police conducted investigations. They were released around 3:30 p.m. after law enforcement gave the all-clear.
Headmistress Jill Versteeg described what happened as “everybody’s worst nightmare” and urged parents to “hug and love their students”.
Officials had already suspended classes across the district Tuesday to allow juniors to take the ACT college admissions test. The ACT exams and parent-teacher conferences were canceled Tuesday at East High School and classes will not be held at the school later this week. The district also provided grief counselors.
President Biden issued a statement Tuesday night praying for the families of the students killed and injured in the shooting. He also praised the police and other first responders, but noted, “These quick arrests cannot hide the reality that too many families have had a piece of their souls buried after yet another tragic shooting.”
Biden called for increased efforts to reduce gun violence, including action by Congress.
Superintendent Thomas Ahart said school shootings had “become too common” and said that “a real change in gun laws and access would help us a lot”.
“Our staff and students,” he said, “are forced to train for these incidents, and the trauma associated with the repeated exercises and incidents will linger with them for years to come.” It is unfortunate that our state and country has become a place where firearms are far too easily accessible.”
A motive was not initially known.
Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert went to school after the shooting and expressed frustration at the violence.
“Unfortunately, what happened here today was just another senseless tragedy in our community,” Wingert told WOI-TV. “People use guns to settle their differences.”
Police said it was the fourth murder in Des Moines this year.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/08/six-teenagers-arrested-for-iowa-high-school-shooting-that-left-one-dead/ Six teenagers arrested in Iowa high school shooting in which one died