Police hold Iowa man in killing of 2 officers
Suspect in ambush had history of racial provocations
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.