Who is Will Keeps? Chicago rapper injured as 2 students killed during shooting at Iowa school he founded

Who is Will Keeps? Chicago rapper injured as 2 students killed during shooting at Iowa school he founded
The shooting at an Iowa school that led to the deaths of two students also injured Chicago-born rapper Will Keeps (Starts Right Here website)

DES MOINES, IOWA: The shooting at an Iowa school that led to the deaths of two students also injured Chicago-born rapper Will Keeps. The shooting took place around 1 pm on Monday, January 23, at Starts Right Here, which is an education mentorship program founded by Keeps. It is located in downtown Des Moines.

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Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident. Officers have said the victims were targeted and that "there was nothing random" about the attack. Police stopped a car matching witness descriptions two miles from the school where the attack took place, and the suspects were nabbed.

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Who is Will Keeps?

'Starts Right Here', the Des Moines education center was founded by rapper Will Keeps, also called Will Holmes. It specializes in at-risk high school-age youth. He was injured and taken to a hospital and underwent surgery. Keeps reportedly fled fled Chicago when he was 20 and settled in Des Moines.

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Kim Reynolds, the governor of Iowa, who is on the school advisory board, appreciated Keeps. "I am shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Starts Right Here," she said, according to the Daily Mail. "I've seen first-hand how hard Will Keeps and his staff works to help at-risk kids through this alternative education program. My heart breaks for them, these kids and their families. Kevin and I are praying for their safe recovery."

Keeps was born on the South Side of Chicago. He is said to have founded the school to help Iowa youngsters avoid getting involved in gang violence, which is something he once got involved in. He was sexually abused by his stepfather when he was seven years old. 

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"William Holmes aka “Will Keeps” is from Chicago, Illinois. He was born into a life where at age 7 he was sexually abused by his stepfather. At that time, his home was no longer a place that was safe and secure, a place where he no longer called “home.” Due to the sexual abuse, Will was left feeling confused, sad, angry, and searching for answers over the next several years. In Will’s journey to find answers, he learned that what he really wanted was a loving father and mother that would protect him and love him unconditionally. Just like many other young teenage boys in similar situations, they did not find that love in their own homes, so they look for that love and protection in the form of a gang. Will found his “love” and “protection” with The Blackstones gang in Chicago. At the early age of 13, Will found himself living the lifestyle of a gang member. This lifestyle went from feeling powerful, cared for and protected to almost losing his life and seeing others die," Keeps' website says. 

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"At age 15, he witnessed his friend being murdered by a rival gang and when the gun was pointed to his head, the gun jammed. Will was then beaten almost to death. The gang cut him with knives and beat him with a baseball bat. Will was left for dead. Gratefully, Will survived and this was the beginning of his journey to saving others lives," it added. 

It continued, "Will moved to Des Moines in his 20’s and began a new life where he wanted to focus on his future and how he wanted to be remembered. He wanted to make a change for others so they don’t have to go through life without feeling cared for, loved, or being in a home where they can feel safe. His legacy started with giving back to his community and to youth who are faced with similar situations that he was in. He began mentoring youth on a daily basis as a team member of the ManUp Iowa program for at risk youth. Will found that his true God given abilities were helping others and empowering them to go down a better path…one he wishes he would have had the opportunity to go down when he was younger."

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What does 'Start Right Here' do?

The 'Start Right Here' website says it is a program that aims to serve youth in a supportive and empowering environment. "All young people deserve a chance to rise above the circumstances they were born into and to reach their mental, emotional, physical, and economic potential," it says. "At SRH, we work with urban youth who have been touched by real-life challenges. We give them a chance to choose a different future – empowering them to change their mindset to one of hope, purpose, and determination, and providing access to resources that support their goals."

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