Both of the central Iowa police officers who were killed in “ambush” style attacks early Wednesday morning were graduates of Simpson College in Indianola.
Des Moines Police Sergeant Tony Beminio graduated from Simpson in 2001, while Urbandale Officer Justin Martin graduated in May 2015. Fred Jones, a professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Simpson, had the same reaction as many Iowans did upon hearing the tragic news.
“Well, of course, it was great sadness, but a lot of it was just anger, a deep sense of anger,” Jones said. “It’s just such a senseless act. It’s such a hopeless thing. I mean, you just can’t understand something like this and the absurdity of it.” The suspect in the killings is 46-year-old Scott Greene of Urbandale. He was taken into custody, without incident, in rural Dallas County. Jones has fond memories of Officer Martin, who went to Simpson after graduating from Rockwell City-Lytton High School.
“From day one he always wanted to be a police officer,” Jones said. “He wanted to serve his community. He was compassionate, generous, inclusive…he was just an exceptional young man.” Jones was Martin’s faculty advisor. He says Martin was one of his top students.
“He was a thoughtful student. One of the best ways to tell how intelligent a person is not what they know, but if they know what questions to ask. He asked good questions and the important questions,” Jones said. “If I could clone him for every student in my classes, he’d be a good person to clone.”
Beminio, meanwhile, graduated from Simpson 15 years ago. Jones is one of the few remaining professors on the Indianola campus who knew Beminio.
“He seemed to be a young man who was very dedicated,” Jones said. “He had a strong sense of ethics. I remember that.” Members of the Simpson wrestling team plan to wear blue socks in honor of the two fallen officers at their meet tonight (Thursday) at Cornell College. Beminio, a state high school heavyweight wrestling champion, played football at Simpson. He later joined the Indianola Police Department. Upon his move to the Des Moines Police force, he served as a school resource officer at Roosevelt High School. The school’s principal, Kevin Biggs, remembers Beminio for the way he treated students.
“He would walk the halls and kids would come up to him and shake his hand and they had a great deal of respect for him as a human being and for what he stood for, and the freedoms he provided them. It was just a wonderful relationship,” Biggs said. Beminio was an 11-year veteran of the Des Moines Police Department. Martin was a rookie on the Urbandale force.