On Pouring a Martini
(I wrote this aticle on November 2nd while in a class at the Poynter Institute and learning some fundamentals about structure, specifically the Martini Structure. I used the opportunity to pretend I was a news blogger, researching a breaking story and reporting on it myself. It was fun. I learned a lot in the class and recommend it if you’re a writer.)
Des Moines, Iowa
On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, tragedy struck Des Moines, Iowa when two police officers, Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Berminio and Officer Justin Martin, were shot and killed in ambush-style attacks. The murders occurred close to one another and are believed to have been carried out by a lone attacker.
The suspect is Scott Michael Green: a 46-year-old white male with a history of racial goading, harassment charges and domestic disputes. He is now in custody.
The murders come at a time of heightened national tension. Whether questioning the use of force by police and private security at Standing Rock or gearing up for all out battle in defense of their interpretation of Second Amendment rights, for many heading into next week’s contentious election, anxiety and uncertainty are high. The shootings are also eerily reminiscent of a shooting in Brooklyn two years ago, where two NYPD officers were killed in their car, and bring to mind police killings in Texas and Louisiana earlier this year.
It all began just after 1 a.m. when a report came through that shots had been fired in the affluent Des Moines suburb of Urbana. Arriving at the scene, officers found Martin had been shot while sitting in his car.
A second call came 20 minutes later. Sgt. Berminio had been shot in his car only a few blocks away.
Both men died shortly after Green’s attack. Martin had been with Urbandale P.D. since 2015. Bermino, a family man, was with Des Moines P.D. since 2005.
Neither appeared to have had a confrontation with Green before he opened fire.
Conducting their search in pairs, officers remained vigilant, and community schools were closed as the investigation proceeded.
The police determined their suspect, Green, and released identifying information by 7:40 a.m.
By 9:40 a.m., Green was in custody. He turned himself in. Flagging down an Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer, Green showed him his ID, asked the officer to call 911 and surrendered. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a medical condition.
Green has a history of run-ins with law enforcement. After resisting a pat-down from Urbandale police, who said Green was known to be armed, he was jailed and charged with interfering with official acts in 2014. He was found guilty of harassment after an altercation in a parking lot only two days later. In the last month, police were called to deal with a domestic dispute between him and his mother, and he was removed from a high school football game after standing in front of a group of black parents and waving a Confederate flag during the national anthem.
Officers across the nation began Tweeting their support early in the morning. By the afternoon, memorials had been set up outside of Des Moines and Urbandale police departments. Many residents brought flowers. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said violence directed at law enforcement is “especially intolerable.” President Obama was quick to strongly condemned the murders as well.
America has higher private gun ownership rates than any other county and a much higher gun homicide rate than any other developed nation. The tragedy in Des Moines may serve as another example of the need for stricter legislation around gun control.
Weeks ago, after confronting Green as he waved a Confederate flag in front of him and other black parents at his sons’ football game, Ardis Gardner said, “something is wrong with this dude.” There’s no longer any doubt that Gardner was right.