Po­lice hold Iowa man in killing of 2 of­fi­cers

Sus­pect in am­bush had his­tory of ra­cial provo­ca­tions

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - By Scott McFetridge

DES MOINES, Iowa — A white man with a his­tory of ra­cial provo­ca­tions and con­fronta­tions with po­lice am­bushed and fa­tally shot two white Des Moines-area of­fi­cers in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents Wed­nes­day morn­ing, po­lice said.

Au­thor­i­ties took Scott Michael Greene, 46, into cus­tody hours af­ter the killings and less than three weeks af­ter he ar­gued with of­fi­cers who re­moved him from a high school foot­ball game where he had un­furled a Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag near black spec­ta­tors.

Greene flagged down a Bem­i­nio Martin state Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources worker in a ru­ral area west of Des Moines, iden­ti­fied him­self and asked that he call 911. Sher­iff’s of­fice and state pa­trol of­fi­cers took Greene into cus­tody.

He’s sus­pected in the killings of two of­fi­cers, who were shot as they sat in their cars. Po­lice iden­ti­fied the men as Of­fi­cer Justin Martin, who had been with the Ur­ban­dale force since 2015, and Sgt. An­thony “Tony” Bem­i­nio, who joined the depart­ment in Des Moines in 2005.

Greene was taken to a hospi­tal for un­known health is­sues and was to be ques­tioned later at Des Moines po­lice head­quar­ters, Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama of­fered con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of the slain of­fi­cers, call­ing it “shame­ful acts of vi­o­lence.”

Po­lice re­sponded to a re­port of shots fired at 1:06 a.m. lo­cal time and found Martin, the Ur­ban­dale Po­lice Depart­ment of­fi­cer, shot. Au­thor­i­ties from sev­eral agen­cies sat­u­rated the area and about 20 min­utes later dis­cov­ered that Bem­i­nio, the Des Moines of­fi­cer who had re­sponded to the ini­tial killing, had been shot in a pa­trol car at an in­ter­sec­tion, Parizek said.

The shoot­ings hap­pened less than 2 miles apart. Au­thor­i­ties cor­don off the scene where one of two Des Moines-area of­fi­cers was found shot to death Wed­nes­day.

Ur­ban­dale po­lice Chief Ross McCarty said in the first shoot­ing, in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the shooter walked up to Martin’s car and shot with­out warn­ing.

“I wouldn’t call it a con­fronta­tion,” he said. “I don’t think he may have even been aware that there was a gun­man next to him.”

The shoot­ings fol­low a spate of po­lice killings, in­clud­ing am­bushes of of­fi­cers in Dal­las and Ba­ton Rouge, La. Five of­fi­cers were killed in Dal­las on July 7 and three later that month in Ba­ton Rouge.

In the con­fronta­tion at the Ur­ban­dale high school foot­ball game, which Greene video­taped and posted on so­cial me­dia, McCarty said Greene, who is white, ap­peared to be try­ing to an­tag­o­nize African-Amer­i­can fans when he shook a Con­fed­er­ate flag in front of them dur­ing the na­tional an­them.

In the video, of­fi­cers can be seen ask­ing Greene to leave, telling him that dis­play­ing a Con­fed­er­ate flag there was in­flam­ma­tory. Greene, mean­while, ar­gues that his con­sti­tu­tional rights are be­ing vi­o­lated.

In other in­ci­dents, court records show, Greene was jailed and charged with in­ter­fer­ence with of­fi­cial acts af­ter re­sist­ing Ur­ban­dale po­lice of­fi­cers who tried to pat him down for a weapon in 2014.

Two days later Ur­ban­dale po­lice were called to an­swer a com­plaint of ha­rass­ment at the apart­ment com­plex where Greene lived. The com­plaint said he threat­ened to kill an­other man dur­ing a con­fronta­tion in the park­ing lot and yelled a ra­cial slur used against African-Amer­i­cans. Greene was charged with ha­rass­ment.

He pleaded guilty and re­ceived a sus­pended jail sen­tence and a year of pro­ba­tion. Court records show he com­pleted a substance abuse and psy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tion.

Parizek said the of­fi­cers’ deaths are a blow to the city. “They are our friends and co-work­ers. ... We’re heart­bro­ken,” he said.

BRIAN POW­ERS/THE DES MOINES REG­IS­TER

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