Two Iowa police officers killed in ambush
Both officers slain early Wednesday morning in what authorities described as separate ambush-style attacks had ties to the Fort Dodge region.
Officer Justin Martin, of the Urbandale Police, grew up in Rockwell City and graduated from high school there.
Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Beminio, of the Des Moines Police Department, was the son of Frank Beminio who was once an Eagle Grove police sergeant, said former Eagle Grove Police Chief Dan Carrigan.
The city of Eagle Grove held an event commemorating both officers Wednesday evening, handing out blue lights in front of the fire department and collecting signatures and condolences in a book to be sent to the families.
“I worked with Frank for several years,” Carrigan said. “I knew his kids real well. Tony was in my daughter’s class in school. They were close.”
“When I first moved to town back in ’89, I came into town with my moving truck and Frank pulled up in his patrol car. He said do you need somebody to unload the truck? I said sure, and he said I’ll get Tony down here. He was a big kid back then.”
Tony was really good in football, Carrigan said, and also was in wrestling.
Frank Beminio was a very good officer, Carrigan said, and the two always helped each other out. They still keep in touch. Frank Beminio became the police chief in Belmond before his retirement.
“I know (Tony’s) dad, he would have done anything for that boy, for his two kids,” Carrigan said. “He just bent over backwards for those two.
“He was a pretty proud dad when he went into law enforcement.”
Father a principal
Justin Martin’s father, Randy Martin, is the principal of South Central Calhoun High School, and his mother, Jayne Martin, is a teacher at the school.
“He would be best described as a hard-working, positive role model,” Superintendent Jeff Kruse said of Justin Martin.
“The SCC family was deeply saddened to hear of the tragedy of a former student Justin Martin, while on duty as an officer in Urbandale,” said Kruse on behalf of the school board, faculty and staff.
Justin Martin graduated from Rockwell City-Lytton in 2011, he said.
Kruse knew Justin Martin a little, he said. He played football, basketball and track, and was starting his high school career when Kruse first came to the district.
“He always accepted his role on a team, always did what the coaches told him to do,” Kruse said. “He loved going to work – I can tell you that.
“He was always positive, ready to go to work, ready to serve his community.”
In Eagle Grove, Mayor Sandra McGraff said she organized the blue light event before she learned one officer was a native of her town.
“This morning, when I heard on the news that two officers were shot again, it really just made me angry and I wondered when is this going to stop?” she said. “We all think about, what can we do? So that’s when my mission started. Let’s start this campaign with the blue lights again and remind people that it isn’t all bad people out there. Most of us are behind law enforcement.
“We know they’re there to help us. It was a good time to step forward and support law enforcement,” she said.
“Later is when I was given word that it was Frank’s son, which brought it even closer to home,” she said. “I can’t imagine. My son’s a police officer. I can’t imagine what they are going through.”
Fort Dodge Police Chief Kevin Doty’s son is a sergeant with the Des Moines Police Department. Doty said he’s met Tony Beminio and spoken to him before.
“We have a couple officers on our department that played football against him when they were at St. Eds and he was at Eagle Grove,” Doty said. “They knew him that way.”
Some of his officers will attend funerals for the two, although arrangements haven’t been made yet.
“We’ve reached out to them,” he said of his fellow police officers in Des Moines, “to let them know we are thinking about them. The officers who were killed, their families, and the officers and families in all the different departments.”
The Rev. Al Henderson, chaplain for the Fort Dodge police, said he offered to travel to Des Moines himself to support the officers, but was told a very good support team had already been assembled.
“I did get some time to visit with our state troopers and a number of our officers and our police chief,” Henderson said.
At this point, it just hurts.
“It’s unthinkable,” Henderson said. “I’m with the officers and I see them dealing with children with band-aids. I see them deal respectfully with a person who is regularly under the influence. I see them very tenderly deal with someone who has mental or emotional issues. To think of that same officer possibly being ambushed – it’s just unbelievable.”
Doty said knowing both officers were from the area makes the hurt even more real.
“I think officers think a little bit about what is happening, not just this incident in Des Moines, but the others that have happened around the country,” Doty said. “This a little closer to home.
“The amazing thing about something tragic like this is, it is so senseless for this to take place, but the outpouring from the citizens in Fort Dodge to our officers has been unbelievable,” he said.
Officers out on patrol, anywhere they’re seen, were thanked Wednesday, said Doty.
“People see you in uniform. People are thanking you for your service,” he said, “letting us know that they’re concerned about law enforcement and the safety of officers, letting officers know they care about them and they’re praying for them.
“We’ve had people buy them cookies – just trying to do something to reach out to show their support for our officers on this sad day.”