The first officer slain this morning in a Des Moines suburb was a rookie. The policeman shot a few minutes later was a veteran officer in the Des Moines police department.
Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek had the solemn task of publicly releasing the names of the fallen officers. Parizek’s voice cracked with emotion when he announced Sergeant Anthony Beminio had been killed.
“He goes by Tony,” Parizek said, pausing to compose himself before continuing. “He’s been with us since 2005. He had some prior service at another local police department…He was promoted last year. He’s a great guy in this department, a great friend to all of us, a fantastic family man.”
Parizek worked with Beminio on midnight patrol for several years.
“He was on our tactical unit. He was a school resource officer for quite a while and his last stop before being promoted, he was a robbery/homicide detective,” Parizek said. “A very popular officer (and) a solid, solid performer.”
The Des Moines Police sergeant then revealed the second officer killed was Justin Martin. Martin’s boss, Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty, told reporters the slain officer is a native of Rockwell City.
“He had obtained the rank of Eagle Scout before going on to college at Simpson where he got his degree in criminal justice,” McCarty said. “Shortly thereafter he pursued employment with us and we were fortunate enough to hire a very good young man.”
Martin graduated from the police academy last December.
“He spent the next four months going through field training with us and this summer he was put into a one-man probationary unit,” McCarty said. “On August 22, we released him from probation and turned him ino a one-man unit.”
The police chief believes his officer was just 24 years old.
“We had high expectations of his future and it’s tragic,” McCarty said.
According to Parizek, the spokesman for Des Moines Police, both officers were shot while they were seated, in their patrol cars.
“It appear that either officer had an opportunity to interact with the suspect,” Parizek said. “It doesn’t look like there was an exchange of conversation. There definitely wasn’t an opportunity for these officers to defend themselves or respond to the attack.”
The first shooting was reported by people who live near the intersection and heard the gunfire. Police say “several shots” were fired at both scenes, but they’re not saying what type of weapon or weapons were used. Parizek said metro police are a tight-knit community and most know one another, so this has been a “heartbreaking” day, but he said this incident won’t deter police from doing their jobs.
“What happened today unfortunately is something we know is a possibility when you sign up,” Parizek said. “You can’t let that be your guiding light as you go on about your day.”
Bemino worked in the Indianola Police Department before joining the DMPD. He was a 2001 graduate of Simpson College. Simpson College president Jay Simmons issued a written statement, calling today’s events involving two graduates of his college “senseless” and “almost too much to bear.” The younger officer’s faculty advisor at Simpson called his former student “kind, gentle, compassionate.”
According to a news release from the college, members of the Simpson wrestling team have decided to wear blue socks in honor of the two officers at Thursday night’s wrestling meet at Cornell College.
The older officer was a state champion wrestler at Iowa City West in 1998. Beminio’s father, Frank, served on Belmond’s police force for 17 years and was its chief for eight years before retiring in March of 2014. The elder Beminio is currently a Belmond city councilman.
Donations to the families of Officer Martin and Sergeant Beminio made be made on this website.
(Additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis at Des Moines Police headquarters and by KGLO’s Bob Fisher in Mason City)