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Des Moines police identify 15-year-old killed in shooting outside East High School

There will be no classes the rest of this week at East High School, but Thursday and Friday staff will be available to talk with students virtually, DMPS announced.

DES MOINES, Iowa — One teenager is dead and two others are in critical condition following a shooting outside East High School in Des Moines Monday afternoon, according to the Des Moines Police Department.

DMPD said the shooting happened around 2:48 p.m. and was outside on school property, not within the building itself.

The department says 15-year-old Jose David Lopez of Des Moines, who was not an East High student, died. A 16-year-old female and an 18-year-old woman are both hospitalized in critical condition as of Tuesday morning.

Both of the hospitalized victims are students at East, and six teenage suspects have been charged with Murder in the First Degree and Attempted Murder.

Des Moines Public Schools said two suspects are enrolled at Hoover High School. Another previously attended Hoover, and a fourth previously attended North High School, but neither are currently enrolled in the district.

"The gunfire appears to have come from a passing vehicle," a police news release says.

The department added that 11 total search warrants have been executed in the city, and six firearms have been recovered.

"Gunshots were fired by multiple shooters, from multiple vehicles," the release adds.

Among the assisting agencies are the Iowa State Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the FBI. Sgt. Paul Parizek with DMPD called the investigation "gang-impacted."

"We don't have young lives to spare, and when we settle our differences through gun violence, that's just not who Des Moines is. So we'll get to the bottom of that," said Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert.

There will be no classes the rest of this week at East, but Thursday and Friday staff will be available to talk with students virtually, DMPS announced.

The ACT for the school's juniors is postponed until March 29. Parent-teacher conferences have also been postponed.

Free breakfasts and lunches for East students and families can be picked up this week between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at these locations:

  • River Woods Elementary School parking lot (2929 SE 22nd Street) 
  • Hoyt Middle School parking lot (2700 E 42nd Street) 
  • East High School cafeteria and parking lot (815 East 13th Street) 

"I thought the kids, someone got hurt from speed racing because they're usually speeding and literally doing 80 to 100 [mph]. And they're hanging on to the hoods of the car," said Tasha Allen, who is new to the neighborhood.

"So that's what I thought until someone said that it was a shooting. So that blew me back."

Linda Myers, who has lived in the area her whole life, called the shooting "dreadful."

"And what makes a person want to find a gun and shoot someone?" she said.

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"I honestly am still trying to process it," Kyla Nahno Kerchee, a teacher at East High School, said Monday. "I've never been in this situation before and I hope no one else ever has to be."

The district said the high school was temporarily locked down, but students were later dismissed on time.

"The administration and staff at East High School responded in textbook fashion to this incident," DMPS Superintendent Thomas Ahart said. "I want to share with the families and with the entire East community that my heart goes out to each and every one of you. Our entire community is in mourning right now."

This marks the city's fourth homicide of 2022, and the investigation is ongoing.

President Biden weighed in on the shooting outside of East High School, saying this incident taking decisive action to curb gun violence.

"Our young people should be safe in and around school, in their neighborhoods, and in their homes," Biden said.  "Every American should be able to visit a house of worship, a grocery store, a night club, or any other place without fear of being gunned down. 

"That too many cannot is a stain on our national character and an urgent call to action."

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