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DES MOINES, Iowa — The heartbreak of seventeen innocent students and teachers killed in the mass shooting in Florida continues to be felt across the country, including within the Iowa State Education Association.  “Our members are sad, they are scared, they are frustrated that we`re at this point,” said ISEA President Tammy Wawro.

President Donald Trump commended the courage of every victim in the mass shooting and offered a solution to stop future tragedies.  “That coach was very brave. Saved a lot of lives I suspect but if he had a firearm he wouldn’t have had to run.  He would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” said President Trump.

President Trump’s position, to arm certain teachers that have a military background or firearm training has been met with stiff opposition from the Des Moines Police Department.  Sergeant Parizek said,  “It is a skill set that diminishes.  That’s why we practice all the time because it requires precision and the only way you keep that is by training all the time.  So is that something teachers want to get involved with?”

Wawro believes more guns does not equal more safety.  Spotting a problem early on does that.  “If we want to introduce more things into our schools we need more counselors, we need more school psychologists, we need help and support with students on a daily basis.”

Wawro says Trump`s recommendation for teachers to become first responders is ironic considering state legislators stripped away some of educators bargaining rights a year ago, in part because they are not recognized as such.  “We are no longer able to sit down and put into contract safety in our school houses and I think it is very ironic that here we are.”

The ISEA is not without a plan, “We might have to discuss how we retro fit the current buildings.  We have to make sure they are safer, entrances are protected, there are things experts need to look at,” said Wawro.  Measures that police believe are more proactive.  “We all know that action beats reaction and the best action in this is to focus on the efforts of figuring out how we keep those guns out of the wrong hands,” said Parizek.

Iowa schools are not immune from guns.  The Des Moines Police Department tells us they seized a total of five firearms on school campuses during the 2016-2017 school year..

DES MOINES, Iowa–  Des Moines Police are reviewing body camera video of officers trying to get a crowd of rowdy teens under control at the downtown Des Moines DART Station Wednesday.

At one point an officer maced a girl and then forces her to the ground.

She and two other Metro high students were arrested.

18-year-old Aaron Keys was arrested for interfering with the arrest.

The 15 second clip of the scuffle, surfaced on social media.

Police say that video does not paint the correct picture.

“Evaluate the right or wrong in this video based on 15 seconds there was 45 min of chaos down there,” Sargent Paul Parizek said.

Police say the scuffle happened after an early out day for Des Moines students.

More than 100 students were bused to the DART Station where police tried to control the crowd.

“He walked up to us and told us if you can’t find no place to sit then go outside I told him its already cold outside,” Aaron Keys said.

That’s when police say keys and two other students became argumentative, loud and disorderly.

The girl in the video was taken into custody for trespassing, she resisted so police sprayed her with mace.

“That’s when it escalated after he slammed her on the ground and it escalated,” Keys said.

Police say a post on social media tipped them off on a potential fight at DART.

Officers wanted to prevent a brawl at DART like the one that happened a month ago.

Police say there is body camera video with no audio, all surveillance video from dart and the 15 second cell phone clip.

Neither will be released until the case is over.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  After a divisive year in American politics, women found their power in numbers. Millions of women marched in cities from Washington D.C. to Des Moines as a part of the infamous Women’s March.

Political experts say the surge of energy comes primarily from Democratic women looking to create change, running for political office at a historic pace after having their chance for a first female president squashed.

It’s what inspired Deidre DeJear to run for Iowa’s secretary of state.

“Finally I got to the point where I was like, stop convincing yourself why you shouldn’t and just do it,” she says, but she also had her doubts. DeJear is African American, married, and already has a full-time job–and she’s also never run for political office before. DeJear is no stranger to politics, but serving in this capacity would be a first.

“Many of these women that are stepping up are using the gifts they have to impact the greater good. We’re all like pieces of this big puzzle and women are beginning to figure out where they fit and how they fit,” she says.

Kelly Whiting, a mother of two, found her place on the now female majority Ankeny City Council last November, not because of the outcome of the election but because she always wanted to serve.

Whiting says, “We are half of the population. It’s good to have a representative government.”

City councils in Waukee and Coralville are also female-dominated for the first time ever, but for Whiting, being a part of history wasn’t why she decided to run.

“I think voters look for the best candidate, and if you’re working on the issues close to their hearts I don’t think it matters if you are male or female.”

Whiting and DeJear join the list of a record number of Iowa women who are hoping to break their own glass ceiling. Republicans like Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Joni Ernst, and Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer have already paved the way. Iowa’s firsts are part of a national trend.

“Every indication is that we have double the number of women running for the U.S. Congress this year than ever before,” says Dianne Bystrom.

Bystrom is the director of Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Cat Center. She says the only time there’s ever been more women running for Congress was almost three decades ago.

“This year may be replicating what happened in the 1992 election,” she says.

In 1991, Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s dismissal of the accusations ignited female political involvement, similar to today’s #MeToo movement, the social media campaign addressing the issue of sexual harassment. Political experts say this, along with women speaking up and speaking out, is driving political momentum and confidence.

The confidence is driving women to run for office, but many don’t know where to start. The non-profit organization 50-50 in 2020 created a blueprint to help female candidates campaign. Enrollment at the boot-camp has doubled since the last election. The organization’s goal is to fill 50% of the seats in the Iowa legislature with women within the next two years. Right now, that number is only at 23%. Organizers believe the goal will likely not be met, but its importance remains.

“This is not just a phase, this is maybe a boost to make it more important to say we need more women in the legislature,” says Maggie Tinsman, co-founder of 50-50 in 2020.

Political analysts suggest more women in politics will bring more collaboration and bipartisanship across the aisle. It’s an issue women hope won’t need to always be the center of discussion but something that is expected in the future.

Whiting says, “It’s more of just an aspiration of seeing other women do great things and for our daughters to know it’s possible and for them to have role models they can see, too.”

PERRY, Iowa  —  Perry’s El Buen Gusto has been the Barco family’s livelihood since 2009.

Speaking about her parents, 22-year-old Marisa Barco said, “They wake up thinking of the restaurant, they go to sleep thinking of the restaurant. They are here from eight in the morning until ten at night.”

Charity Sumner-Ehman makes the 30-minute drive from Jefferson often just for their Papusas. She said, “Oh they are yummy and they make them just right.”

Marisa’s parents, Edith and Carlos Barco, the owners of the restaurant, moved to America from Guatemala in the 1990s. Marisa said, “I was born in 1995 in California and they came to Iowa when I was five months old, so I’ve lived in Perry my whole life.”

Marisa says her parents have always stayed current with their work visas in search of the American dream of beginning their own business. “Everybody knows us here. We are in the middle of Perry, so a lot of people come and enjoy my mom’s cooking.”

There was always one thing her parents wanted most: citizenship.

“My parents have been working on their case for more than 15 years,” said Marisa.

Finally in 2014, an immigration judge reviewed their case, but a decision did not come down until 2017, telling them they’d have to voluntarily deport back to Guatemala in order to gain citizenship. The Barcos appealed, hoping they could earn citizenship without leaving their family and business behind, but it was denied by the Board of Immigration Appeals a year later in February 2018.  It gives them just 60 days to move back to Guatemala in hopes of becoming American citizens.

“The lawyer says it takes two to three years for the whole process to happen,” said Marisa.

For almost a decade, El Buen Gusto has thrived in downtown Perry. While the Barcos say they understand the immigration process, many customers believe the owners and the restaurant belong in Perry. “They are Perry citizens. I know that, I truly know that,” said Sumner-Ehman.

The Barcos are now leaving the place they have called home for over two decades, closing down one American dream in hopes of beginning another. Marisa said, “We don’t know if it is a guarantee, but we are hoping it will be.

El Buen Gusto will close on March 24th.  A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Edith and Carlos with moving expenses.

KNOXVILLE, Iowa  —  The Memorial Hall in Knoxville, which is right next to American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168, was burglarized last week when three .30-40 Krags and two M1 Garands were taken. The Krags were originally used in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and the Garands were used in World War II and the Korean War.

“These weapons have great significance to our unit here,” said Curt Froyen, Commander of American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168. “They’ve gone into battle in…different wars and we’ve used them now for the last 70 years to honor our veterans. Our funeral Honor Guard and members of our legion are just devastated with their loss. I guess we just hope that somehow they can be returned to us so that they can continue to be used the way they were intended to be used.”

The rifles are used by the Honor Guard during 4th of July parades, Memorial Day services, and a variety of other occasions.

“But most importantly, we use them to honor our veterans as we salute at military funerals,” said Commander Froyen. “Our unit does over 30 funerals a year here in the Knoxville area, and we think about all the men and women who served this country, and the loss of these weapons is devastating to us.”

While the rifles are ceremonial now, in the wrongs hands, they could be very dangerous.

“One of the things that we are most concerned about is if these were in the hands of an inexperienced individual,” said Commander Froyen. “These rifles have been modified to shoot blanks, they are not meant to shoot live rounds, and if someone were to actually try to fire a live ammunition through one of these, the results could be catastrophic, and we’d hate to think of someone who would be injured as a result of trying to fire one of these weapons.”

The Knoxville Police Department is investigating this theft.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Iowans ages 15-34 and the third leading cause for 10-14-year-olds. Those statistics, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, are not falling on deaf ears at the state capitol any longer.

“Many of us have been touched by suicide in the past. It’s one of those disappointing things that happen in life,” said Republican State Senator Craig Johnson of Buchanan County.

Legislators are hoping a bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, can arm teachers with the tools needed to help prevent student suicides.  Democratic Senator Matt McCoy of Polk County said, “It’s to help teachers be able to spot the warning signs of kids expressing behavior that might identify that they are in a bad place.”

The bill still needs House approval. but would require teachers to take one hour of suicide prevention and awareness training whenever they renew their teaching license.

“They see it, they live with it, they are right there at the forefront with our students.  First to notice something if something is going on with the students,” said Senator Johnson.

Iowa is currently one of 22 states without mandated suicide prevention training for teachers. There are currently 11 states that mandate the training annually and another 17 that mandate it–but not annually–similar to the proposal in Iowa where a standard teaching license is valid for five years.

McCoy said the training would help teachers “be able to spot some of the withdrawing from life, some sort of the sadness, some of the sense of not belonging, and those are things we can do.”

In an era during which Republicans and Democrats have not been seeing eye-to-eye on mental health and education, legislators believe the unanimous Senate vote holds a strong meaning.

“I love the fact that it is being done with 100% bipartisan support because this is what people send us to do,” said McCoy. “These kinds of bills and to work on the cooperative legislation.”

Panorama edged Des Moines Christian in a thrilling 2A Regional Final, 36-33.

Standing room only for the game that decided which team would play at the girls state tournament, which begins Monday at Wells Fargo Arena.


AMES, Iowa — “Having had one happen just two weeks before that, you know, I`m sure a lot of people watched that video and were kind of like, you know, how does that feel? What does it feel like?” said Will Strong, a student at Iowa State University.

Strong was one of those people that watched the Iowa DOT video of the deadly car pileup that happened on I-35 near Ames two weeks ago.

“Yeah, I definitely watched that video…a few times,” said Strong. “Just because it’s something you know, kinda looks like something out of a movie, you know, watching it and then when you’re actually in it, it’s like you`re in the movie.”

Strong was involved in the second big wreck to happen on I-35 in as many weeks. The most recent one happened on Saturday Morning between the Huxley and Elkhart exits.

“Now having been in one, it`s kind of like surreal,” said Strong. “And, what actually happens, you know, you don`t really have time to think about it, you just kinda like, what do I need to do to get to safety, and you know a lot of adrenaline.”

Strong was on his way to visit his mother in Indianola when his Corolla was hit from behind.

“I was towards the front of the crash and I was able to actually come to a complete stop,” said Strong. “I was lucky. I didn`t hit the person in front of me and I stopped, and I actually kind of like a brief sigh of relief like okay, and then I looked at my rear-view mirror and it was kind of like oh crap.”

Strong had time to brace for impact.

“I got hit from behind first,” said Strong. “And, then a second time too.”

Strong’s car was smashed up pretty badly, but fortunately he did not suffer any injuries. However, others were hurt in the accident, and it was a busy day at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, in large part because of weather related injuries.

“Saturday, about eleven a.m. is when everything started,” said Luke Stalzer, a Registered Nurse who works in the Emergency Department. “It started out pretty crazy. We had patients coming in who were falling, lots of musculoskeletal injuries, and then obviously the accident on I-35 South complicated things with that. We had patients start coming in by ambulance from that scene, so it definitely created a bit of chaos for us…”

A spokesperson says the Medical Center treated about a dozen people who were involved in the wreck. No one was seriously injured.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The Insiders panel talks about first jobs, Iowa’s biggest needs, most important causes, what they’d like to see in Iowa, Statehouse surprises, and their predictions in this week’s Quick Six.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is the latest school that will now be known as the site of a mass shooting after authorities say a former student killed or wounded nearly three dozen people.

As it has been with each of the recent mass murders, debate begins immediately with people discussing what–if anything–should be done in terms of gun laws.

Some Democrats say it’s time to ban assault style weapons, pass more mental health funding, and expand criminal background checks. When they had the majority in Congress with a Democratic president, they chose not to do those things.

Some Republicans say limiting guns isn’t the answer, and instead teachers should be armed, and armed guards and metal detectors should be put in schools. Republicans are in the majority now and have a Republican president, but they, too, have not yet chosen to take any of those actions.

Political Director Dave Price poses the questions of whether anything will be done to help stop mass murders in the future or if we will wait to have the same conversation the next time it happens?