Columns

Lynch on Slain Des Moines Officers: 'There is No Message in Murder'

Attorney General Loretta Lynch stressed “there is no message in murder” after the overnight ambush of two police officers in the Des Moines area.

Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin, 24, was killed in the first shooting, shortly after 1 a.m. Several blocks away and about 20 minutes later, Des Moines Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Beminio, 39, was shot and killed. Both officers were sitting in their cars.

Suspect Scott Michael Greene was arrested in Dallas County, Iowa, at about 9 a.m. after he flagged down a state employee driving on a road and asked that 911 be called.

According to KCCI News, Greene pleaded guilty and was fined in 2014 for resisting officers who were trying to search him for a weapon. A couple days later, cops responded to a complaint that Greene had threatened to kill a person at his apartment complex; he pleaded guilty to harassment. In October, police escorted Greene from an Urbandale High School football game after he was asked to leave for waving a Confederate flag.

At a Justice Department veterans appreciation ceremony today, Lynch addressed “the senseless attacks” in Des Moines, stressing that the DOJ “has offered any and all assistance to our state and local counterparts as they investigate these appalling attacks.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation, and our U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Iowa will remain in regular contact with local authorities,” she said.

“Violence has no place in the United States of America. It degrades our communities and it demeans our values. And when that violence is coldly and deliberately directed at those who risk their lives to enforce the law and to keep us safe, it is especially intolerable.”

The ambushes were “yet another reminder of the tremendous dangers that law enforcement officers face each and every day,” Lynch added.

“The men and women in law enforcement deserve our gratitude and our respect. And more than that, they deserve our support, which is why the Department of Justice is committed to doing everything we can to give police officers the tools, training and equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively,” she said. “And we are determined to hold to account anyone who targets police officers simply because they have the courage and the selflessness to wear the badge each and every day.”

Lynch acknowledged that “this is a time of particular tension and mistrust between law enforcement and many communities.”

“I know that while we do not yet know what led the perpetrator to commit these awful crimes, many will be nevertheless be tempted to read a message or motive into this assault. But let me be clear: there is no message in murder. Violence creates nothing; it only destroys,” she said. “And the path to the more just and peaceful society that we desire for ourselves and for our children is paved not with hatred and malice, but with compassion, and understanding, and the hard work of cooperation. Let those be our watchwords in the days to come.”

The Clinton campaign canceled a scheduled event with President Clinton and Sen. Time Kaine (D-Va.) in Des Moines today due to the shootings.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One today that President Obama “is aware of last night’s terrible shooting” and the White House was in touch with local officials. Schultz reiterated past Obama statements that there is “absolutely no justification” for violence against police officers.