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Families of Starts Right Here shooting victims allege Will Keeps failed to protect students in new lawsuit

Court documents show the families believe founder Will Keeps failed to run Starts Right Here in a "reasonably safe manner".

DES MOINES, Iowa — The families of two Starts Right Here shooting victims have filed a lawsuit against the program and its founder Will Keeps, according to a press release from the families' lawyers.

Rashad Carr and Gionni Dameron's families are accusing Keeps of failing to protect the two teenagers from harm, claiming Keeps knew that another student meant to harm Carr and Dameron. 

Court documents show the families also believe Keeps failed to operate Starts Right Here in a "reasonably safe manner", and failed to implement and carry out appropriate security measures. 

The families say they have incurred physical and emotional damages following their son's death as a result of Keeps' negligence. 

Keeps issued a statement to Local 5 Tuesday afternoon, writing "I am surprised and deeply hurt that these families would sue me individually, and Starts Right Here. I am crushed that after being thanked for helping to save and change the lives' of their sons that I am now their target. My focus is on our students - being shot did not distract me and neither will this lawsuit."

The lawsuit comes almost four months after Carr and Dameron were killed in a shooting at the school in January. 

Keeps, whose given name is William Holmes, was also seriously injured in the shooting. 

Preston Walls, 18, and Bravon Tukes, 19, are both charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal gang participation in connection to the shooting. Both teenagers have pleaded not guilty. 

Walls' trial is scheduled to take place in late August, while Tukes is due in court in October. 

Local 5 will update this story as more information becomes available. Download the We Are Iowa app or subscribe to Local 5's "5 Things to Know" email newsletter for the latest.   

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