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Tuesday 12 December 2017

US police double shooting suspect arrested

A police officer at the scene of the shooting in Urbandale, Iowa (AP)
A police officer at the scene of the shooting in Urbandale, Iowa (AP)

US police have arrested a man suspected of killing two police officers in Iowa.

Scott Michael Greene, 46, was taken into custody after two shootings in the Des Moines and Urbandale areas.

Greene is suspected of fatally shooting the officers as they sat in their patrol cars. Police identified the men killed as Officer Justin Martin, who had been with the Urbandale force since 2015, and Sergeant Anthony "Tony" Beminio, who joined the department in Des Moines in 2005.

Greene was taken to a hospital for treatment of unknown health issues and will be brought later to Des Moines police headquarters, where he will be questioned and charged, Sergeant Paul Parizek said.

Police initially responded to a report of shots fired at 1.06am and found an Urbandale Police Department officer who had been shot.

Authorities from several agencies saturated the area after that shooting, and about 20 minutes later discovered that a Des Moines officer who had responded to the initial killing had been shot in a patrol car at an intersection, Mr Parizek said.

The shootings happened less than two miles apart and both took place along main streets that cut through residential areas.

Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty said that in the first shooting, investigators believe the shooter walked up to the officer's car and shot without warning.

"I wouldn't call it a confrontation," Mr McCarty said. "I don't think he may have even been aware that there was a gunman next to him."

Earlier a video on social media appeared to show a man identified as Greene being removed from a high school football game.

In the confrontation at Urbandale high school, Mr McCarty said Greene appeared to be trying to antagonise African-American fans when he shook a Confederate flag in front of them during the national anthem.

In the video, officers can be seen asking Greene to leave, telling him that displaying a Confederate flag there was inflammatory. Greene meanwhile argues that his constitutional rights are being violated.

Des Moines and Urbandale Police later said they had identified Greene, of Urbandale, as a suspect in the killings through "a series of leads and investigative tips." It is unclear if either of the shootings was captured on police cameras.

The shootings follow a spate of police killings, including ambushes of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Five officers were killed in Dallas on July 7 and three were killed later that month in Baton Rouge.

The attacks on police this summer in Dallas and Baton Rouge came in the wake of several high-profile police shootings of black men, fuelling a national debate about police use of force, especially against minorities - a frequent topic in the nation's presidential race.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has argued that police need the freedom to use greater force, while Democrat Hillary Clinton has supported officers while calling attention to what she and others have called examples of bias in policing.

Mr Parizek said the officers' deaths are a blow to the city.

"They are our friends and co-workers," he said. "Des Moines is not a big city. We all know each other. We're heart broken."


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