Court docs link police and educational program shootings

Two gang members charged in a deadly shooting at an educational program for at-risk youth in Des Moines appeared to be seeking retaliation after a rival gang member rapped dismissively about a fatal police shooting, new court documents suggest.

The details disclosed in applications for search warrants connect the two Iowa shootings as well as one in Arizona for the first time. All told, four people died in the complicated jumble of interconnected violence, some of it gang related.

Handguns, ammunition and marijuana were uncovered when the warrants were executed last month at properties associated with Bravon Michael Tukes.

Bravon Tukes and Preston Walls are charged with first-degree murder and other counts in the Jan. 23shooting at the Starts Right Here program, which provides help to students through a contract with Des Moines Public Schools.

The tragic chain of events that led to the double homicide started in November when Bravon Tukes’ brother, Brandon Tukes, a 23-year-old former Des Moines high school football star, was fatally shot in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.

The family was devastated, and one day after Christmas, Des Moines police responded to a disturbance involving Bravon Tukes’ half-brother, 16-year-old Travontay Jenkins.

A report released previously said the teen told the officers “I want to be with my brother” before pointing a gun at officers. The officers, who had been urging the teen to put down the weapon, then fired multiple times in a fatal shooting that the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has ruled was justified.

The police department had previously declined to name the teen, citing state confidentiality laws for juveniles. Jenkins was identified by name for the first time in the warrant application.

Rival gang members responded to the fatal police shooting by making disrespectful comments about Jenkins and his fellow gang members on social media, the warrant application said.

Violence between the city’s gangs had been on the rise already, with a shooting that killed one teen and wounded two others last spring outside a Des Moines high school also blamed on a gang dispute.

On Jan. 15, the 19-year-old Bravon Tukes, who had a well-documented history of gang involvement that dated to at least 2020, posted a picture of himself on Facebook, with an ominous caption, the warrant application said.

“I don’t want no peace I wanna see dead bodies cos my lil bra died an I want the same for everybody,” the caption read.

The next day, Rashad Carr, a 16-year-old rival gang member, posted to YouTube a video of him rapping that referenced various shootings, including the police shooting death of Bravon Tukes’ half-brother, the warrant said.

“Think y’all could diss us be for real,” Carr said, mocking the gang for “crying.”

Threats of retaliation spiked on social media in the following days, the warrant application said. And within a week, Carr and Gionni Dameron, who was 18, were killed inside the Starts Right Here program.

The program’s founder, William Holmes,who also is known as Will Keeps, was wounded trying to intervene but survived. The program temporarily closed, reopening just last week.

Court documents allege that Bravon Tukes was the getaway driver and Walls, who is 18, was the gunman. Neither has entered a formal plea yet.

The warrant application also describes for the first time that Dameron was armed.

It said that Dameron fell to the ground after he was wounded in the first round of gunfire. Surveillance video showed him trying unsuccessfully to pull something from from his waistband before Walls shot him several more times. A handgun later was found concealed in Dameron’s waistband, according to the document.

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