Suspect in Des Moines police officer shootings had history of racist incidents

Officials have captured an Iowa man who is suspected of ambushing and killing two Des Moines-area police officers in separate shootings early Wednesday morning. Officials have not given a possible motive for the attack.

Scott Michael Greene, 46, was detained without incident on a rural road after flagging down a state Department of Natural Resources employee and asking the employee to call 911, said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Greene was taken to an unidentified hospital after complaining of a health problem and has not yet been formally arrested or interviewed, Parizek said at a televised news conference.

Investigators are still reconstructing how Urbandale Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Officer Anthony “Tony” Beminio were shot as they sat in their squad cars while on patrol about two miles apart, near the western outskirts of Des Moines. Officials suspect the officers were caught by surprise and likely hadn’t interacted with the gunman before they were shot.

Greene, who was apparently on foot, is suspected of firing at least 15 rounds from a .223-caliber rifle into the side of Martin’s stopped vehicle, as Martin, a rookie in his early 20s, waited to drive through an intersection, said Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty.

“I don’t think he ever may have been aware there was a gunman next to him,” said McCarty.

Martin likely didn’t know Greene, but there are other Urbandale officers who did, McCarty said.

Greene, who is white, had a history of racist incidents that brought police scrutiny, most recently an Oct. 14 incident in which Urbandale police ejected him from a football game at his daughter’s high school after he waved a Confederate flag during the national anthem.

In videos uploaded to YouTube last month on an account under Greene’s name, Greene can be seen carrying a Confederate and an American flag in front of several black women and later arguing with police officers who told him to leave. In a comment under his own video, the owner of the account wrote: “I was offended by the blacks sitting through our anthem. Thousands more whites fought and died for their freedom. However this is not about the Armed forces, they are cop haters.”

Greene later complained that officers were violating his constitutional rights.

“I did not want to cause any disruption. I was peacefully protesting,” Greene told the officers as he filmed them, complaining that a black person had smacked him in the head from behind and that someone had snatched a flag out of his hands.

The officers were initially hesitant to take an assault report from Greene, telling him that he was causing a disturbance and that he had to get off school property, as his flag violated school policies, according to the video.

“You have to understand, in the current social climate that we’re in, when you fly a Confederate flag, standing in front of several African American people, that’s going to cause a disturbance, OK, whether you intended to or not,” a female officer told Greene.

Greene was also convicted of a 2014 incident in which he resisted Urbandale police’s efforts to pat him down for weapons, according to the Des Moines Register. Days later, he was accused of accosting a black man in a parking lots, flashing a flashlight into a eyes, calling him the N-word, and threatening to kill him, according to records obtained by the Des Moines Register.

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