DES MOINES, Iowa — A teenager was killed and two others seriously injured on Monday after gunfire appearing to come from a passing vehicle struck them outside an Iowa school, authorities said.
Des Moines police said in a news release that potential suspects were arrested in the shooting on the grounds of East High School near downtown Des Moines, about half a mile from the Capitol. No charges were immediately filed.
sergeant. Paul Parizek told KCCI-TV that the calls started pouring in around 2:50 p.m., shortly before classes were scheduled to end for the day.
Police did not identify those shot, but said a 15-year-old man died. He wasn’t a student at East.
The other two people shot dead were women aged 16 and 18, both of whom frequent the East. They were hospitalized in critical condition.
The district said in a news release that the school was immediately locked down and students were kept inside while police investigate. They were fired around 3:30 p.m. after law enforcement gave the go-ahead.
Principal Jill Versteeg described what happened as “everyone’s worst nightmare” and urged parents to “hug your students and love them”.
The district said there would be no classes on Tuesday and it was postponing ACT and parent-teacher conferences. The district also provided bereavement counselors.
Superintendent Thomas Ahart said school shootings had “become all too common” and said “real change in gun laws and access would go a long way to helping us”.
“Our staff and students,” he said, “are forced to train for these incidents and the trauma associated with repeated drills and incidents will stay with them for years to come. It is unfortunate that our state and our country has become a place where guns are far too readily available.”
Police said they do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public.
A motive was not immediately known, and Parizek did not provide any details about potential suspects. He said witnesses were being interviewed and investigators were executing search warrants.
Authorities recovered casings from the scene as they investigate what happened.
“Obviously, we have devoted all the resources we have to it. We know that the children of this school are the most precious cargo of our community.”
Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert visited the school after the shooting and expressed frustration at the violence.
“Unfortunately, what happened here today was just another needless tragedy in our community,” Wingert told WOI-TV. “People use guns to settle their differences.”
Police said it was the fourth homicide in Des Moines this year.
Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas.