Chicago, United States, Nov 2 – Two police officers in the US state of Iowa were shot and killed in an ambush Wednesday, leading to a manhunt and the quick capture of the suspected gunman, authorities said.
Police apprehended 46-year-old Scott Michael Greene from Urbandale, a suburb of the capital Des Moines, less than two hours after they identified him as a person of interest and warned the public he should be considered armed and dangerous.
“Mr. Greene was taken into custody without incident,” Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek told a news conference.
Authorities said two officers were ambushed while patrolling in their cars during the early morning hours Wednesday, in separate shootings two miles apart.
“It doesn’t appear that either officer had an opportunity to interact with the suspect,” Parizek said. “They didn’t have a chance to defend themselves.”
Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty said evidence at one of the shooting scenes suggested that between 15 to 30 shots were fired from a .223 caliber weapon, and that the gunman had likely walked up to the police cars on foot.
The two officers killed were identified as Anthony Beminio, 39, an 11-year veteran of the Des Moines Police Department, and Justin Martin, 24, who had served one year on the Urbandale police force.
Martin was found dead just after 1:00 am (0600 GMT) next to Urbandale High School, police said. Twenty minutes later, Beminio was discovered gunned down at a nearby intersection. US media said he died after being taken to the hospital.
— Police knew suspect —
Greene turned himself in, authorities said, by flagging down an Iowa state parks employee while walking on an unpaved rural road. He was taken to a local hospital complaining of an unspecified ailment unrelated to his capture, and would be interviewed “once he’s well enough to make a statement,” Parizek said.
Authorities declined to comment on a motive for the shootings, saying they were still conducting an investigation.
Greene had a history of run-ins with Urbandale police officers and was well-known to law enforcement, McCarty said.
He had recently been removed by police from an Urbandale High School football game — a school Greene’s daughter attends — after he waved a Confederate flag during the national anthem.
The shootings marked the first time a Des Moines officer had been shot in the line of duty since two police were gunned down in 1977, The Des Moines Register said.
However, the city’s police department had earlier this year mourned the deaths of two officers in a car crash.
“We’re very sad today. This has been a tough year,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.
This latest police shooting came after a bloody summer for US police.
The United States was on edge for weeks in July following the shooting in Dallas of five officers and a similar assault in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where three officers were shot dead by a military veteran.
Those killings were carried out in apparent retribution for a string of high-profile police shootings of black citizens which inflamed racial tensions in the United States.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the Iowa shootings Wednesday, saying they were “yet another reminder of the tremendous dangers that law enforcement officers face each and every day.”