—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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 Registerreported. 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.
Police arrested Scott Michael Greene in connection with the fatal shootings of the two officers, the Des Moines Registerquoted Sergeant Chad Underwood, a spokesman for the Urbandale Police Department, as saying.
Other news organizations are also reporting the arrest.
The New York Timesquoted 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
The handover of power was a solemn affair. There was no mistaking the new administration for the old one.
At dawn this morning, workers loaded couches and tables into a moving truck parked outside the West Wing. Men wearing white coveralls and carrying roller brushes and paint cans walked across the north driveway. Inside the White House, pictures of the 45th president had been removed from the walls. Only the hooks remained, ready for a new set of portraits of the 46th.
A lone Donald Trump press deputy, Judd Deere, sat in his small office, writing a note on a piece of stationery to whomever would be taking over his desk in a few hours. Deere was attempting to describe what it’s like to work in the building. When I looked in at noon, after the Trump presidency had officially ended, he was gone, his desk cleared. Even the magazine racks hanging on the wall had been emptied.
If the new president can win over a chunk of the GOP voters dismayed by the Capitol riot, it will constitute a seismic change in the political balance of power.
Donald Trump’s chaotic final days in the White House could present President Joe Biden with a historic opportunity to broaden his base of public support and splinter Republican opposition to his agenda.
Recent polls have repeatedly found that about three-fourths or more of GOP voters accept Trump’s disproven charges that Biden stole the 2020 election, a number that has understandably alarmed domestic-terrorism experts. But in the same surveys, between one-fifth and one-fourth of Republican partisans have rejected that perspective. Instead, they’ve expressed unease about their party’s efforts to overturn the results—a campaign that culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump’s supporters.
Three particular failures secure Trump’s status as the worst chief executive ever to hold the office.
President Donald Trump has long exulted in superlatives. The first. The best. The most. The greatest. “No president has ever done what I’ve done,” he boasts. “No president has ever even come close,” he says. But as his four years in office draw to an end, there’s only one title to which he can lay claim: Donald Trump is the worst president America has ever had.
In December 2019, he became the third president to be impeached. Last week, Trump entered a category all his own, becoming the first president to be impeached twice. But impeachment, which depends in part on the makeup of Congress, is not the most objective standard. What does being the worst president actually mean? And is there even any value, at the bitter end of a bad presidency, in spending energy on judging a pageant of failed presidencies?
The president is returning to a freshly renovated White House—and it includes an unusual display.
Here’s a little quiz. Take a look at the picture of the photo above, which shows the newly redecorated Oval Office that is occupied by Donald Trump. What’s unusual in this scene?
As a helpful hint, here’s a close-up of the area you should be looking at:
Is it the Remington bronze statue known as “The Bronco Buster” on the right, which many presidents have displayed? No. The portrait of Andrew Jackson just above the statue, which has survived the departure of Jackson-fan Steve Bannon? No. The bust of Lincoln, on the left? Beneath the portrait of Jefferson? No, and no—although it would be instructive to know the thoughts of the third and the 16th presidents as they gaze on the 45th.
Even though kids rarely get very ill from COVID-19, vaccinating them will likely be key to reaching herd immunity.
A few days after Christmas, Molly Hering, 14, and her brother, Sam, 12, got their first shots as part of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials for kids. Their mom had heard about a clinical trial being conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Molly told me that she’d agreed to join because she wanted to contribute to the vaccine-development effort.
Molly and Sam’s dad was recently hospitalized with COVID-19. (He recovered.) Both kids have spent most of the past year dealing with Zoom school and its attendant technical glitches. Molly finally went back to in-person ninth grade this month, but masks and social distancing are required at school. Like everyone else, she’s looking forward to the end of the pandemic. “I’ll finally be able to go to school normally,” she said.
She who dies with the most checked boxes wins, right? Wrong.
“How to Build a Life” is a column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Starting today, the column will be published weekly on Thursday mornings.
I am an inveterate scorekeeper. I can go back decades and find lists of goals I set for myself to gauge “success” by certain milestone birthdays. For example, in my 20s, I had a to-do list for the decade, the items on which more or less told the story of a penniless musician who had made some dubious choices. It included quitting smoking, going to the dentist, mastering my pentatonic scales, and finishing college. (I hit them all, although the last one mere days before my 30th birthday.)
There is nothing unusual about this tendency to keep score. Google “30 things to do before you turn 30” and you will get more than 15,000 results. Researchers writing in the journal Psychological Science a few years ago observed that people are naturally motivated toward performance goals related to round numbers, and birthdays in particular can often act as landmarks to motivate self-improvement. We naturally seek outside sources of quantitative evidence of our progress and effectiveness—and, thus, our happiness.
Democracy is under attack, and we need to protect it.
As I sat in my Capitol Hill office two weeks ago, watching a violent mob storm the symbol and seat of our democracy, I was reminded of my distant past. As a child, I saw my birth country of Somalia descend from relative stability into civil war, overnight. The spaces where people felt most secure—their homes and workplaces—suddenly became battlegrounds, torn by gunfights and bombings. Violent targeting of political leaders—once unheard-of—became commonplace.
I never expected to experience a direct assault on democracy in the United States, one of the oldest, most prosperous democracies in the world.
But if there is any lesson we can draw from the past four years, it is that it can happen here. If we are to address the root causes of this insurrection, we have to understand, deep within ourselves, that we are human beings like other human beings on this planet, with the same flaws and the same ambitions and the same fragilities. There is nothing magical about our democracy that will rise up and save us. Building the democratic processes we cherish today took hard and dedicated work, and protecting them will take the hard and dedicated work of people who love this country.
I’ve been thinking about Barbara Tuchman’s medieval history, A Distant Mirror, over the past couple of weeks. The book is a masterful work of anti-romance, a cold-eyed look at how generations of aristocrats and royalty waged one of the longest wars in recorded history, all while claiming the mantle of a benevolent God. The disabusing begins early. In the introduction, Tuchman examines the ideal of chivalry and finds, beneath the poetry and codes of honor, little more than myth and delusion.
Knights “were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed,” Tuchman writes. “In practice, they were themselves the oppressors, and by the 14th century, the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder.”
As President Joe Biden takes office, his administration will get to work reversing some of the Trump administration’s most controversial and destructive policies, including the elimination of key environmental protections, the creation of new immigration restrictions, and the sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.
After the Georgia runoffs, it’s tempting to think that a Democratic Congress could just legislate these policies away. But the Senate filibuster is likely to remain intact for now, effectively giving Republicans a veto over legislative efforts to undo President Donald Trump’s regulatory legacy.
Nor can President Biden reverse the damage just by signing a fat stack of executive orders. Instead, the law requires federal agencies to follow certain procedures—many quite persnickety—when they make changes to government policy. And reversing Trump-era policy will be all the more difficult because that administration used its remaining days in office to create additional procedural obstacles to insulate its decisions from reversal.
The United States remains in a very alarming place, but COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all fell in the past seven days.
In last week’s update, we wrote that the United States had reported the worst weekly case, hospitalization, and death numbers of the pandemic. At the time, it wasn’t clear what proportion of the case and death increases were related to postholiday reporting backlogs. This week brings some clarity: The backlogs appear to be largely behind us, and the underlying trends are moving in the right direction for most of the country. Even for the states experiencing the worst outbreaks, we are seeing early indications that the rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are easing, though some areas are still reporting dangerously high case and hospitalization levels and wrenching death rates.
Weekly new cases for the seven-day period beginning Thursday, January 14 were down 20 percent, the lowest number of new cases we’ve seen for a non-holiday week since mid-November. As important, after 16 straight weeks of increases, average weekly hospitalizations dropped 4 percent this week—a modest improvement, but a good sign. Reported tests reached a new weekly high, edging out last week by 1 percent—though the high test numbers this week probably reflect the fact that the testing backlog is still catching up.