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Des Moines-Area Police: All Officers In Danger, Suspect Sought After Killings

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now to a story we have been following in Iowa. Police now have a suspect in custody in the shooting deaths of two police officers early this morning. They were shot while in their police vehicles, one in the city of Des Moines, the other a few miles away in neighboring Urbandale. Authorities are saying they were shot ambush-style about 20 minutes apart. We're waiting to learn the identities of the fallen officers. For more on the suspect, let's turn to Clay Masters, who hosts MORNING EDITION for Iowa Public Radio. Clay, good morning.

CLAY MASTERS, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So tell us who's in custody.

MASTERS: So police have taken into custody Scott Michael Greene. He's a white male, 46 years old. He was driving a pickup truck. He was located just west of Des Moines in Iowa's Dallas County. Now, Dallas County is the county just west of the Des Moines metro. The sheriff's office and the Iowa State Patrol apprehended him, reports right now that he is being transported to Des Moines. And we're awaiting a press conference in about 45 minutes at the Des Moines Police Department to learn more.

GREENE: OK, so he's the suspect in these shootings. And what do we know about exactly what he's at least accused of doing and what played out here?

MASTERS: All we know right now is that from an early morning press conference, police were concerned about a clear and present danger after responding to shots being fired at six after 1 o'clock in the morning near - in Urbandale. That's the suburb that is right next to the border of Des Moines. An officer was shot to death in his or her police cruiser. Again, we don't know the details on the officers who were killed. Twenty minutes later, another police officer was shot and killed in a patrol car in Des Moines. The killings happened about two miles apart. And these are very residential neighborhoods, but they happened on some main arterial roads in the Des Moines and Urbandale locations.

GREENE: So even though we're talking about two different communities, it's - these were only a couple miles apart. This is a residential area that sort of spans both Des Moines in Urbandale, in a way.

MASTERS: Yeah, it is. And it's a pretty quiet neighborhood. There were a lot of police sirens out, a lot of activity this morning as I was coming in to host MORNING EDITION. I was definitely surprised to hear about it this morning.

GREENE: And so we do not know anything yet about these officers who were killed.

MASTERS: No. And we are awaiting information. Not sure if we're going to get that in this press conference coming up or later in the day. We just know that they were letting the families of the slain officers know before they released the names or identities.

GREENE: So I - you know, we've certainly covered tensions between police departments and communities for some time now. I mean, any idea yet what could have been the motive here?

MASTERS: There are many news organizations that are talking about a YouTube account that was reportedly owned by the suspect and posting a video from an Urbandale High School football game earlier last month, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was asked to leave the school's property for displaying a Confederate flag while in the stands. While organizations are reporting this, we don't know for sure. We're going to be asking that at this press conference here coming up in less than an hour. And there aren't tensions adamantly apparent other than shootings that have happened throughout the country, in Baton Rouge and Dallas, of police officers over the last year.

GREENE: So you're saying knowledge of tensions in other communities, but not something that you living in Des Moines have seen yourself.

MASTERS: No. That would be correct. And this is the first police officer being shot and killed since 1977, or what news outlets are reporting. There were a couple police officers that were killed earlier this year, but that was in a car accident. And there are reports out there as well from the police officers in Urbandale saying that this is likely the first Urbandale officer who has been killed in the line of duty by being shot and killed.

GREENE: OK, Clay. Thanks so much for coming on this morning. We appreciate your reporting.

MASTERS: Thanks, David.

GREENE: That is Clay Masters from Iowa Public Radio. And just restating the news, police in Des Moines now have a suspect in custody in the shooting deaths of two police officers earlier this morning in Des Moines and in neighboring Urbandale. And we'll be following this story as the day goes on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.