A Des Moines police officer stands near the scene of a shooting, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. Authorities apprehended a man Wednesday suspected in the early morning killings of two Des Moines area police officers who were shot to death while sitting in their patrol cars in what authorities described as separate ambush-style attacks. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A Des Moines police officer stands near the scene of a shooting, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. Authorities apprehended a man Wednesday suspected in the early morning killings of two Des Moines area police officers who were shot to death while sitting in their patrol cars in what authorities described as separate ambush-style attacks. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Clinton surrogate rally canceled after shooting of Iowa police officers

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By Matthew Jack | matthewmjack@gmail.com

A Des Moines get-out-the-vote event scheduled for Wednesday for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was canceled in the wake of what the Des Moines Police Department called an “ambush-style” shooting of a Des Moines and an Urbandale police officer in their squad cars early that morning.

At around 1:06 a.m. Wednesday, officers from the Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments responded to reports of gunfire and found Urbandale police officer Justin Martin fatally shot in his squad car.

Des Moines police Sgt. Anthony Beminio was shot approximately two miles away while responding to the scene of Officer Martin’s shooting, around 1:26 a.m.

The suspect, Scott Michael Greene, a 46-year-old Urbandale resident, was apprehended by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department without incident when he flagged down a Department of Natural Resources officer and handed over his identification, according to Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Greene has a history of violent and confrontational behavior. According to Iowa court records, he was arrested for resisting Urbandale police officers attempting to pat him down for a weapon, and for threatening to kill another man during an argument in a parking lot.

Des Moines police characterized him as a man with “a history of racial provocations,” who was ejected from a high school football game in October after complaints that he waved a Confederate flag in front of spectators who are minorities.

Iowa politicans were quick to offer condolences and statements of support for the officers’ families and the communities affected by the shootings.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the two Iowa police officers who were killed in the line of duty, as well as their families and the entire Iowa law enforcement community as they face this devastating loss,” said Iowa Sen. Joni Ernsi in a statement.

Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd District offered condolences to “the families, friends, and fellow police officers of those who were killed,” and commended “the hard work of law enforcement statewide for bringing the suspect in to custody in such a swift manner.”

United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch strongly condemned the killings in a statement, calling them “yet another reminder of the tremendous dangers that law enforcement officers face each and every day. The men and women in law enforcement deserve our gratitude and our respect.”

At the canceled Des Moines rally, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine was scheduled to appear with former President Bill Clinton to discuss Hillary Clinton’s economic policy and to encourage Iowans to cast their votes early.

Grammy Award-winning musician Ben Harper was also scheduled to perform.

Des Moines county — which had an estimated population of over 40,000 in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — had received 6,633 absentee ballots by Nov. 1, 53 percent of which were cast from registered Democrats and 26 percent from registered Republicans.

Since the GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has made accusations of a “rigged” election a centerpiece of his stump speeches, it is important for Clinton to maximize her chances of a landslide victory, if she were to win.

“There will undoubtedly be some Trump supporters who will believe the election is rigged, regardless of the margin of victory,” said Cary Covington, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, “but the numbers will be much smaller if she wins a larger victory” in the state.

On Wednesday, Trump had a 1.4-point lead in Iowa, according to the RealClearPolitics state average.

According to Covington, “Clinton’s appearance in the state would help stimulate enthusiasm for her candidacy,” but sending her running mate and husband as surrogates “will accomplish that as well.”

“Iowa is closely contested, but chooses only 6 electors. Florida is also closely contested, but controls more votes, so Clinton is drawn to the larger closely contested states like Florida,” Covington said.

Follow Matthew Jack (@matthewmjack) on Twitter for ongoing coverage of the 2016 election in Iowa.