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The Police Killings in Des Moines, Iowa: Latest Updates

Police have charged Scott Michael Greene in connection with the killings.

Scott Michael Greene, the suspect in the shootings Des Moines Police Department / AP

What we know:

—Police arrested Scott Michael Greene, a 46-year-old white man, in connection with the fatal shootings on Wednesday of two Des Moines-area officers. He was detained west of Des Moines without incident and charged Thursday.

—The officers—one from Urbandale, Iowa, and the other from Des Moines—were shot 20 minutes apart early Wednesday. Both were in their patrol cars. Police said they were killed in an “ambush-style attack.” They were identified as Anthony “Tony” Beminio and Justin Martin.  

—We’re live-blogging this story below.


This live blog has concluded

Suspect Charged

The Des Moines Register and other news organizations are reporting that Scott Michael Greene was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Urbandale, Iowa, Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sergeant Anthony Beminio.

“The investigation has produced probable cause to support these charges,” according to a news release quoted by the Register.

Greene, who is being held at the Polk County Jail, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Obama Honors Fallen Officers

President Obama paid tribute to the two Iowa police officers who were killed early Wednesday, saying they “represented our best, most decent instincts as human beings—to serve our neighbors, to put ourselves in harm’s way for someone else.”

The president praised officers across the country for their service to communities and risking their lives in the line of duty. He said in part:

All across the country, our police officers go to work each day not knowing whether they’ll come home at night. Their families live each day with the same fears. So as Americans, we owe them our respect and gratitude for their efforts to safeguard our families and our communities. And so as we once again mourn American police officers lost in the line of duty, we must also renew the call to match that same sense of service, that same devotion within our own lives and our own communities.

Obama, who has spent a good deal of time in Iowa in the last eight years on the campaign trail, also praised the community with how they handled the tragedy Wednesday, saying residents of Des Moines and Urbandale are “good, big-hearted people who look out for each other and are willing to come together across our differences.”

It is unclear whether the president will visit Des Moines in the wake of the shooting.

Slain Officers Identified

The Des Moines officer killed was Sergeant Anthony “Tony” Beminio, Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, said at a news conference. He was “a great guy,” Parizek said. “It’s real hard” to lose him. Deminio had been with the department since 2005, he said. He was promoted last year.

The Urbandale officer was identified as Justin Martin, who joined the department in 2015. Both officers are white, as was the suspected shooter.

Parizek added that authorities did not know whether the videos posted on YouTube are a “relevant piece to our investigation.” He said he couldn’t confirm whether the man in the video was Scott Michael Greene.

Greene flagged down officers, presented his ID, and asked police to call 911, Parizek said. Greene was arrested without incident, he said.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the Shootings

In a statement, the attorney general said “the Department of Justice has offered any and all assistance to our state and local counterparts as they investigate these appalling attacks.”

She added:

I know that this is a time of particular tension and mistrust between law enforcement and many communities.  I know that while we do not yet know what led the perpetrator to commit these awful crimes, many will be nevertheless be tempted to read a message or motive into this assault.  But let me be clear: there is no message in murder.  Violence creates nothing; it only destroys.  And the path to the more just and peaceful society that we desire for ourselves and for our children is paved not with hatred and malice, but with compassion, and understanding, and the hard work of cooperation.  Let those be our watchwords in the days to come.

What We Know About Scott Michael Greene

The suspected shooter was first arrested for a misdemeanor in 2014 that came from an incident where he resisted arrest by two officers trying to pat him down for weapons at an apartment complex in Urbandale, The Des Moines Register reported. Officers called Greene, who is 46 years old, noncompliant, hostile, and combative in that instance. He would later plead guilty.

Two days after that arrest, officers responded to a call saying Greene had threatened to kill a man in the parking lot of the same complex and he was charged with first-degree harassment. The Register reported Greene was accused of shining a flashlight in the man’s eyes, calling him a racist epithet, and then saying, “I will kill you.” Greene pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, and received a sentence of one year of probation.

A YouTube video posted two weeks ago to an account named “Scott Greene,” and titled “Police Abuse, Civil Rights Violation at Urbandale High School 10/14/16” shows an unpictured man arguing with several officers. The police ask the man to leave the property, saying he was “causing disturbance in the stands.” The video has not been confirmed, but is being investigated by Urbandale police. In another video on the same account, this one posted last week, a man resembling Greene holds a Confederate flag in front of people seated on bleachers. Urbandale High School's football stadium is located near the intersection where one officer was found dead Wednesday, the Register reported. Law-enforcement have not said if the videos were posted by the man arrested for the fatal shootings on Wednesday.

Suspect Arrested

Police arrested Scott Michael Greene in connection with the fatal shootings of the two officers, the Des Moines Register quoted Sergeant Chad Underwood, a spokesman for the Urbandale Police Department, as saying.

Other news organizations are also reporting the arrest.

The New York Times quoted Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, as saying Greene was on foot when he was taken into custody in Dallas County, Iowa. He offered no resistance, Parizek said.

A Rise in Ambush-Style Killings of Officers

Wednesday’s killings in Des Moines comes just months after Micah X. Jones, an Army veteran angry at the police’s treatment of African Americans, killed five police officers on July 7 in Dallas.

Then on July 17, Gavin Long, a self-described black separatist, killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund noted that 14 officers were killed in ambushes in the first six months of 2016. Three officers were killed in that manner in the same period in 2015. The percentage increase: 300 percent.

Police ID Suspect

The suspect has been identified as Scott Michael Greene, a 46-year-old white man. He has not been apprehended.

Greene is 46 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and weighs about 180 pounds, police said. He has brown hair and green eyes.

Greene was last known to be driving a blue 2011 Ford F-150 with Iowa license plate 780 YFR. Police said that the truck has a silver-colored topper with a ladder rack.

How the Officers Were Killed

The Urbandale officer was killed at the intersection of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue at about 1:06 a.m. CT, police said. About 20 minutes later, a Des Moines police officer, responding to the scene where the first officer was shot, was killed near the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Sheridan Avenue.

Both officers were killed in their patrol cars.

“The shootings appear to have been ambush-style attacks,” the Urbandale police said in a statement.

Urbandale School District Cancels Classes

A statement from Des Moines Public Schools said the Urbandale school district has cancelled classes Wednesday because the shootings occurred near Urbandale High School.

Classes in Des Moines are not being cancelled, but the city’s public schools “will be in close contact with the Des Moines Police Department throughout the day, and will take any additional precautions if needed.”

Urbandale Police Confirm Officer's Death

Urbandale, a community of about 40,000 people, is part of the Des Moines area. It’s police department confirmed that one of its officers was killed overnight:

Past Shootings of Police Officers in the Area

The Des Moines Register points out that officers are rarely gunned down in the area.

Here’s more:

For Des Moines, this is the first police officer shot and killed in the line of duty since two officers were gunned down in separate incidents in 1977.

Two Des Moines officers, Susan Farrell and Carlos Puente-Morales, also died earlier this year when their vehicle was struck head-on by a wrong-way drunken driver.

This is likely the first Urbandale officer shot in the line of duty, Urbandale Police spokesman Sgt. Chad Underwood said at the press conference.

Statement From the Iowa Governor's Officer

Ben Hammes, a spokesman for for Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, said:

The governor and lt. governor have been alerted to the attacks on law enforcement this morning.  Shortly after the shootings, our office was briefed by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on the shootings.  DPS is working hand in hand with local law enforcement in the investigation.  We will continue monitoring and working with law enforcement in the interest of public safety.

An attack on public safety officers is an attack on the public safety of all Iowans.  We call on Iowans to support our law enforcement officials in bringing this suspect to justice.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the police officers who were tragically killed in the line of duty as well as the officers who continue to put themselves in harm’s way.

WATCH: Des Moines Police Department News Conference