“These are kids killing kids,”

How Current Shootings Still Haunt a Grieving Community.


Victims of the Des Moines charter school shooting, East High School shooting and an image of East High School. (From top left-to-right: Gionni Dameron, Rashad Carr, Jessica Lopez; From bottom left-to-right: Kemmery Ortega, Jose David Lopez, East High School.) Photo compilation made by Zoe Marquez with images from GoFundMe, Instagram and Google Images.

Zoe Marquez, Editor

As of Jan. 31, 2023, there has already been over 50 mass shootings within the United States and over 80 people killed in said shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive Organization. In the year of 2022 alone, there was a soar of gun-related violence, with 647 accumulated mass shootings on U.S. grounds. 

Recent headlines surrounding these tragedies have become common throughout the news, social media and through conversations on the tough topic. Though such events in states such as Florida, North Carolina, and more devastated the people of Iowa, local tragedies have hit closer to home on the community.

On Jan. 23, a Des Moines charter school (school receiving government funding but working independently within a state) was target to a shooting during school hours. Two students, 18-year-old Gionni Dameron, and 16-year-old Rashad Carr were killed in the shooting. The person charged with two attempts of first-degree- murder, among other charges, was 18-year-old Preston Walls.

This event happened only a month and a half before the one year anniversary of the East High School shooting of March 7, 2022, which left students Jessica Lopez, 18, and Kemmery Ortega, 16, seriously injured. Furthermore, 15-year-old Jose David Lopez, who was not a student there, died from injuries. The ongoing trial shows how 10 teens, all of the ages of 14-18 are being sentenced for the crime committed.

East High School student, and Co- Senator for the junior class, Melissa Perez, reflected on the day of the shooting and explained how even though she was out of town during the occurrence, it still impacted her heavily in a direct interview. 

One of my friends from middle school had passed,” she explained, furthermore adding that she was in denial even after seeing the posts on social media. She recalled how the victim had a good soul and always a smile on his face. She conveyed that she was “so angry at the fact these are kids [the teens responsible for the event] killing kids.”

In regard to current events, Perez stated that they still heavily impact not only herself, but her school and community. 

“‘Clear backpacks,’ ‘more security’ [and] ‘we should put metal detectors in the schools’ are all conversations that have been brought up,” stated Perez.

Moreover, Perez explained that with the media coverage on these events some people may focus more on how to make schools safer after tragedies, when instead she believes that people should look into the “root problem.” 

“How are kids even getting a hold of these firearms? Why is it so easy to access these weapons?” are some of the questions and concepts she believes should be talked about. 

Though the tragedies still impact this community, and the negative perceptions presented on the school due to the shooting in March, Melissa still believes in serving her community and creating a positive environment for herself, and fellow students. 

She communicated that ways to help not only East, but other schools and communities grieving from these events is possibly attending a community event, expressing support towards students and other community members, and checking on friends and family who have been impacted by tragedies. 

“Never leave off on bad terms with someone, especially if it’s something small because you never know when the last time you’ll get to see them,” stated Perez.