Two men were charged with murder after three teenagers were shot dead in a Des Moines home Thursday night.
Emmanuel Totaye Jr., 19, and Daishawn Gills, 20, both of Des Moines, were both charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery.
Brothers DeVonte Swanks, 19, and Malachi Swanks, 16, and their friend Thayne Wright, 15, were killed in the shooting.
Christina Duncan, the mother of the Swanks brothers, said their father, Vinson Swanks, found the three teens dead Thursday inside a home in the 600 block of East Hackley Avenue.
Police were called at about 11:20 p.m., about three hours after the shooting occurred, police said.
Witnesses saw Gills and Totaye Jr. with the victims "at various times" before the killings, Des Moines police said in a news release.
Gills and Totaye Jr. both had property belonging to the victims, according to police. A witness also saw Gills with a long gun before the murders, police said.
Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek declined to comment on the victims' relationship to Gills and Totaye Jr.
'Last person I'd expect'
Mena Ramm, 29, doesn't know much about what happened DeVonte Swanks, but the young man's brace-faced grin continues to flash in her head.
"I can see his smile," she told the Register on Tuesday. "I can see his smiling shyly with his braces. It's just unbelievable.
"Now we’ll never know who any of these kids could have been at 25.”
Ramm taught Swanks for nearly a year, she said, while he attended YouthBuild, a nonprofit program that helps young adults gain work and education skills and experience.
Ramm said Swanks was the "last person I'd expect" to lose his life to gun violence. She said he would speak lovingly of his daughter and girlfriend. He was working last year, she remembers, and talked about providing for both his child and parents.
"He was a good influence on the other people in the classroom, too. He got a lot done over time."
She wasn't sure how many programs or certifications Swanks had finished or gained. But she'll never forget his smile or his "beautiful" handwriting or the way he loved to spill his thoughts in his classroom journal.
"Vonte was very kind, he was really thoughtful," Ramm said. "Vonte was really looking forward to being a dad and being really good partner to his girlfriend. Anytime he talked about her he was so happy and peaceful."
How the suspects were arrested
Gills was arrested Saturday on a charge of attempted murder after a drive-by shooting Friday afternoon that left one woman injured. Additionally, he faces charges of willful injury and two counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon in that incident, according to police.
Friday afternoon's shooting is unrelated to Thursday's slayings, Parizek said.
"We don't have any evidence to indicate that those two are connected," Parizek said.
The families of the Stokes and Wright did not respond to requests for comment.
Totaye Jr. was arrested Tuesday morning at his home in the 5800 block of Southeast Eighth Street.
Totaye Jr. pleaded guilty in May to a trespassing charge stemming from a September 2018 burglary case. An incident, which remains sealed, happened when he was 17 and he was charged with third-degree burglary, according to court records. The case was ultimately moved to adult court.
An investigation into Thursday's shooting is still ongoing, Parizek said.
Last week's fatal shooting brought the number of homicides in Des Moines to six this year. Fourteen-year-old Josiah Woods was shot and killed while at a party in the 1400 block of 17th Street early on New Year's Day
Brothers Damiko Carr, 28, and Karyree Henderson, 21, were killed Jan. 15 during a shooting in the 2700 block of 51st Street that left two others injured.
No shooter has been identified yet in Carr and Henderson's case, Parizek said. And no arrests have been made in connection to Woods' killing.
Last week Duncan said she was tired of the violence and seeing families suffer.
"My boys were the most loving kind of person," Duncan said. "They'd give the shirt off their back, the shoes off their feet to someone who needed it."