By Andrea May Sahouri, Des Moines Register
U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement decrying gun violence following the drive-by shooting outside Des Moines’ East High School on Monday that left a 15-year-old dead and two other teenagers injured.
Six teenagers were charged Tuesday in the killing of Jose David Lopez, 15.
“Jill and I pray for his family and for everyone impacted by yet another senseless act of gun violence,” Biden wrote in his Tuesday evening statement.
“We are grateful to Des Moines law enforcement and first responders for their quick work and professionalism. But these swift arrests cannot obscure the reality that too many families have had to bury a piece of their soul after yet another tragic shooting.”
Biden noted that four years ago, tragedy struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student shot and killed 17 people. And a little over three months ago, a student at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, was charged with shooting and killing four students.
“Between these tragedies are shootings that happen every day without making headlines,” Biden continued.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks the number of gun violence incidents in the U.S., the drive-by shooting outside East High School was the 24th shooting on school property this year.
“As I reiterated in my State of the Union address last week, it is up to Congress to pass proven measures to reduce gun violence — including universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a repeal of the liability shield protecting gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. These laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment, but they will save lives,” Biden wrote.
Joe Henry of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Des Moines expressed grief over the loss of a young Latino community member.
“This violent attack on our children should never have occurred,” Henry said. “We need to take care of our children. Our schools and state government must do their jobs to protect our youth and increase staff now counselors, mental health professionals and opportunities for our kids to excel and have hope.”
Henry said Jose Lopez’s death shows that young people need community.
“This is more than a deadly gang.This is violence caused by lack of resources and little to no gun control,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also expressed their condolences following Monday’s shooting.
“My deepest condolences to the entire East High School community & those impacted by today’s events,” Cardona tweeted Monday evening.
He also expressed frustration over ongoing gun violence in schools.
“Gun violence — whether on the grounds or in the community — has no place in our schools. We must make sure that our schools are havens for learning & support,” Cardona said.
On Tuesday, Reynolds released a statement.
“I’m praying for the victims of this senseless act of violence,” she said. “I am heartbroken for the families and the pain felt across the entire community.”
Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @andreamsahouri, or by phone 515-284-8247.