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Iowa Joins 'The Rest Of The Country': Des Moines Mourns Slain Officers


The ambush-style killing of two police officers yesterday morning shook the city of Des Moines, Iowa. With the suspect now in custody, the community is focusing on picking up the pieces, as Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: In downtown Des Moines, a mother and child are praying beside a patrol car heaped with flowers and cards for Des Moines Sergeant Anthony Beminio and Urbandale police Officer Justin Martin, the policemen killed early yesterday. Oscar Sanchez, a high school senior, is smoothing American flags across the car's windshield.

OSCAR SANCHEZ: It's very sad. You know, like, you wouldn't really think it would happen here, but, I mean, I guess it did.

JANE HURD: I think we feel in Iowa that we're kind of under a bubble (laughter) and - but today, we're - we've become a part of the rest of the country.

MORRIS: Jane Hurd calls yesterday's murders chilling. For others, the news was personal because many in this small, friendly city knew the victims. Chad Miller went to nearby Simpson College with Officer Martin who was only 24.

CHAD MILLER: Nothing explains it. So you can't really - I don't know. It's hard to even know what to feel most of the time. It's just really tough.

MORRIS: Ten miles to the west, at the Urbandale Police Department, it's somber too. Dozens of people stand around the parking lot just gazing at the squad car memorial.

DEBBIE SIEMER: Our world has changed. It's - our innocence is gone.

MORRIS: Like a lot of people here, Debbie Siemer brought her children.

SIEMER: They need to be taught respect. These people are putting their lives on the line for me, for them, just knowing that we can call a policeman any time of the day or night.

MORRIS: It's reported that the alleged shooter, 46-year-old Scott Greene, had been fighting mental health issues for years, recently lashing out at African-Americans. And standing with tears in her eyes, Jenifer Schumann says she's working to counter the hatred she sees behind Wednesday's shootings.

JENIFER SCHUMANN: And I'm trying to think how I can do more for the community and be more open and talking to my neighbors and just showing more love than fear.

MORRIS: For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Des Moines. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.