A suspect is in custody in connection to the ambush-style killings of two police officers in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, according to police.
The two officers were shot and killed early Wednesday as they sat in their squad cars.
“The shootings appear to have been ambush-style attacks,” police spokesman Paul Parizek said in a statement.
The suspect in custody is 46-year-old Scott Michael Greene, a white male resident of Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb. Greene is 5 feet 11 inches tall, with brown hair and green eyes, and was last known to be driving a blue 2011 Ford F-150 truck, according to police.
Urbandale police were very familiar with Greene, Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty said at a press conference Wednesday. “Most of our officers … have taken trips to his house or delivered service to him,” he said. “Never to anything of this extent, though.”
Before he was detained, police said they believed Greene had “information” related to the attack. They also described him as “armed and dangerous,” and urged anyone who thought they saw him to call 911 and not approach him.
Greene was taken into custody Wednesday morning, after he was located in a county west of Des Moines. He gave himself up to police officers without a struggle, police say, and no shots were fired.
He is in custody at a local hospital, but not yet under arrest, police said at a press conference Wednesday; they would not specify his current condition, and said they are waiting to interview him before determining what charges, if any, might be appropriate.
The first shooting happened around 1 a.m. local time, police say; Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin was shot and killed while sitting in a police vehicle. The second shooting occurred about 20 minutes later in Des Moines proper, when Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Beminio was similarly shot and killed while sitting in a squad car. Both officers were white, police say.
The two police officers were about three miles away from each other, and police say they did not appear to have interacted with each other — or with the shooter — leading up to the killings.
During an emotional conference before Greene was captured, police spokesman Parizek was “emotional,” The Associated Press reports, noting that there was “clearly danger” for police officers in the region because officers were being targeted while doing their jobs. For a time, Des Moines police doubled up on patrol for safety.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Urbandale Police said that Greene had a long record of interactions with police and was in court as recently as Tuesday, in connection to a domestic altercation.
The police chief also confirmed that Greene was recently involved in an incident at Urbandale High School, where he was expelled from the property after waving a Confederate battle flag.
A pair of YouTube videos posted last month by a user named “Scott Greene” seem to show that event.
One is a still image showing a middle-aged man wearing sunglasses holding a Confederate battle flag at what appears to be a high school sports event in Urbandale. Another video features a man (whose face isn’t shown) arguing with police after they have ejected him from the grounds for causing a disturbance by the flag.
“Have I committed a crime?” the man asks repeatedly, as police tell him the school is private property and he is trespassing. He said an officer assaulted him by grabbing his arm as he was being escorted out of the stadium, and later accused African-American spectators of assaulting him in the stands when they grabbed the flag from his hands. Police returned the flag to him and asked if he wanted to go to the police station to file a report, which he declined to do. The YouTube user “Scott Greene” titled the video “Police Abuse, Civil Rights Violation.”
NPR has not confirmed that the videos show or were posted by Scott Michael Greene. The man shown in the still image fits Greene’s description and some of the older videos on the account purport to show an apartment complex where, according to public records, Greene was living at the time.
The Des Moines Register reports that someone with Greene’s name and birthdate pleaded guilty to criminal charges in two separate incidents in 2014.
In one case, Greene pleaded guilty to interference with official acts after a police officer said he was “hostile” and “combative” while resisting an attempt to pat him down for weapons, the newspaper reports.
The other incident occurred two days later, when Greene reportedly approached a man in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
“Greene, who lived in the apartments, called the man the N-word and told the man ‘I will kill you, (expletive) kill you,’ according to the complaint,” the Des Moines register reports. The paper says Greene pleaded guilty to a harassment charge and was sentenced to probation.
This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We’ll move quickly to correct the record and we’ll only point to the best information we have at the time.