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Sandy Hook Promise statement on Des Moines school shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Yesterday, two students were killed during a shooting at Starts Right Here, an educational mentorship program in Des Moines, Iowa. Starts Right Here was founded by Will Holmes, who was injured in the attack, and is affiliated with the Des Moines Public School system. This latest shooting comes on the heels of mass shootings in California and Louisiana that killed or wounded 32 people over the weekend. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2023 is off to a deadly start.

In response to yesterday’s shooting, Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, issued the following statement:

“We are devastated for the families and friends of the victims of this latest school shooting at Starts Right Here. Still reeling from a weekend fraught with gun violence, here we have yet another community traumatized by gun violence. Yet again, parents have to endure the unspeakable pain of their children being ripped away from them by the gun violence epidemic.

“Starts Right Here — like all educational settings — should be a safe place for students and young people. Every single time a school or youth center is violated by gun violence, the fear ripples through communities across the country. We are a nation under siege from the unending assault and our fear about the next shooting — whether at a school or in a bar or during a community event where we live.

“We must work together to honor all of the victims. We cannot allow this to continue. For anyone who isn’t taking action to prevent violence, you must get engaged now. We must all learn the warning signs and take action to get help. And we must collectively demand that elected officials take immediate action to pass legislation to end gun violence.”


Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) envisions a future where all children are free from school shootings and other acts of violence. As a national nonprofit organization, SHP’s mission is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Creators of the life-saving, evidence-informed “Know the Signs” prevention programs, SHP teaches the warning signs of someone who may be in crisis, socially isolated, or at-risk of hurting themselves or others and how to get help. SHP also advances school safety, youth mental health, and responsible gun ownership at the state and federal levels through nonpartisan policy and partnerships. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. 

Media Contact:

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579