A manhunt is underway after what authorities are calling an ambushed attack that occurred in the early hours Wednesday that left two Iowa police officers dead.
The shootings took place near Des Moines and occurred just 25 minutes apart, according to Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek. One Des Moines police officer and another from the suburb of Urbandale were found in their bullet-riddled cruisers.
“In all appearances it looks just like that, that these officers were ambushed,” Parizek said. “It doesn’t look like there was any interaction between these cowards and the officers they shot in their cars.”
Neither cop was identified by officials, and as of a 5 a.m. news conference, police were still notifying family members. Parizek said their names and details about their service would be released later Wednesday, Fox News reported.
The shootings appear to be the latest cases of police officers being targeted for assassination in a year that has seen 111 police officers killed in the line of duty, including 50 by gunfire, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
In the most deadly attack on police, five Dallas officers were gunned down by a sniper in July as they patrolled a demonstration against police brutality. Several other high-profile cases of targeting of cops have taken place, including the murder of two Palm Springs, Calif., police officers last month.
Some of the shootings have been connected to anti-police sentiment sparked by racially charged incidents involving alleged brutality or improiper use of deadly force around the country.
There was no information immediately available about witness accounts, how many shots were fired or whether police know who they are looking for. Parizek said he hopes to have a fuller picture of the suspect or suspects in the coming hours.
Des Moines police said in a news release earlier that officers responded to a report of shots fired at the intersection of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue at 1:06 a.m., and the first officers to arrive on scene found an Urbandale officer dying of gunshot wounds.
Des Moines police officers responded to assist and just 20 minutes later, a Des Moines officer was found fatally shot at an intersection about two blocks away.
“There’s somebody out there shooting police. There is a clear and present danger to police officers right now,” Parizek said.
The Des Moines Register reported that streets at both shooting scenes were closed amid the investigation. Schools in the area were also closing for Wednesday, officials said.
The Des Moines police officer is believed to be the first from the city to be shot and killed on duty since two officers were gunned down in separate incidents in 1977, according to the Register.
Two Des Moines police officers were killed earlier this year when their car was struck head-on by a wrong-way drunken driver, according to the paper.
The Urbandale police officer is believed to be that department’s first to be shot dead in the line of duty, Urbandale Police spokesman Sgt. Chad Underwood said at the press conference.
UPDATE via Fox News:
Authorities in Iowa have identified the suspected gunman in the ambush-style attacks early Wednesday morning– occuring 20 minutes apart– that claimed the lives of two police officers who were sitting in their patrol cars.
Authorities said Scott Michael Greene, 46, is considered armed and dangerous. He is about 5’11 and 180 pounds and is believed to be driving a blue 2011 Ford F-150 with an Iowa license plate 780 YFR.
State officials are conducting a massive manhunt.