URBANDALE, Iowa - An Urbandale man accused of gunning down two police officers Wednesday had a history of abrasive and racially charged run-ins with police and school officials.
Scott Michael Greene, 46, was kicked out of Urbandale High School’s football stadium on Oct. 14 after he claimed that spectators stole a Confederate flag he brought to a football game.
And in April 2014, he faced a harassment charge after he called a man the N-word and threatened to kill him.
“Most of our officers have some understanding of Mr. Greene,” Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. “They’ve taken trips to his house or delivered service to him.”
Dallas County sheriff's deputies and Iowa State Patrol officers took Greene into custody around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, two hours after police officials identified him as the lone suspect in the shooting deaths of Urbandale Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines police Sgt. Anthony Beminio.
FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault confirmed Wednesday that federal agents are assisting local Des Moines area investigators in combing through evidence to get a picture of what motivated the attacks.
Breault said agents are “scouring” social media pages purportedly connected to Greene, including a Facebook page that includes “friends” who are Iraqi, Nigerian or Saudi nationals.
Greene lived with his mother in a modest tan home in the 3400 block of 70th Street. People in the neighborhood said he left a less-than-favorable impression.
He seemed “eager” to make strange remarks that seemed aimed at getting people to engage him in conversation, said Bart Brandon, who has lived for nine years in a neighboring house.
At least one court document suggests Greene struggled with a mental health issue. A probation officer who oversaw Greene following the harassment arrest wrote in a June 2015 report that he received a mental health evaluation and was taking recommended medications.
Phyllis Nace, a neighbor living across the street from Greene and his mother, said Greene spiraled into a depression after his Vietnam veteran father died from cancer in 2010. His 66-year-old mother, Patricia Greene, has been trying to support him, Nace said.
“It kind of spun Scott where he went into depression over a number of losses all in the same month,” Nace said. “He’s been trying to work through it.”
Discord at home
Patricia Greene moved out of the house after a recent fight with her son that resulted in a serious misdemeanor domestic abuse charge filed against her, said Brandon, a next-door neighbor.
According to a criminal complaint, Scott Greene called police on Oct. 16 to report that his mother slapped him in the face around 5:15 p.m. Greene told two Urbandale police officers that he and his mother were fighting earlier in the day over a service dog belonging to Greene’s daughter that he kept in the house, according to the complaint.
Greene ended the argument by going to his bedroom downstairs, but his mother reportedly later yelled at him. At one point, Patricia Greene tried to grab a necklace her son wore that included his father’s dog tags, telling him, “You don’t deserve these,” according to the complaint.
Greene told police that his mother slapped him during the scuffle. The contact left an abrasion on his face that the officers saw, according to the complaint. In addition to the criminal charge, a restraining order was issued blocking Patricia Greene from having contact with her son, court records show.
Patricia Greene has not entered a plea to the charge of domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury. Attempts to contact her Wednesday were unsuccessful. She is scheduled for an arraignment Nov. 30.
In a 2007 bankruptcy filing, Greene was listed as a father to a 17-year-old son, a 16-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old daughter.
Little is known at this point about Greene's employment history. John Stenberg, owner and CEO of Pigott, confirmed Wednesday that Greene worked at the Ingersoll Avenue furniture store from June 2006 through August 2013. Brandon said Greene told him this year that he was working at a hardware store.
Football game disruption
No criminal charges were filed against Scott Greene stemming from the Oct. 14 incident when he was kicked out of the Urbandale football game, but he was given a warning for trespassing.
YouTube videos from a person identifying himself as Scott Greene show a confrontation between him and Urbandale police officers outside Frerichs Field in Urbandale last month.
One video showed Greene confronting officers and questioning why he was being asked to leave school property.
Greene said several “African-American” people behind him stole his Confederate flag. The officers told him that holding the Confederate flag is in violation of an Urbandale school district code.
“It was almost like a mugging,” Greene said in the video. “I had my property and I was holding it, and they stole it from me.”
In a comment posted online with the YouTube video, an individual who said he was Scott Greene said: “I was offended by the blacks sitting through our anthem. Thousands more whites fought and died for their freedom. However, this is not about the armed forces, they are cop-haters.”
Thwarting a burglary
More recently, Greene told people in his Urbandale neighborhood that he helped thwart a burglary at Ye Olde Guitar Shoppe early the morning of Oct. 27, Brandon said.
Greene told his neighbor that he was walking a dog sometime before 5 a.m. when he noticed a strange vehicle near the store, across the street from his mother’s house, and called 911.
Brandon said it was strange when Greene knocked on his door around 6 a.m. to eagerly tell him about the burglary and his role in stopping it.
“To me he seemed like he was kind of enjoying being the good guy,” Brandon said. “He clearly didn’t have any problems calling law enforcement, so I don’t understand why he all of a sudden is against law enforcement.”
Store owner Paul Wilson confirmed the burglary, and he said Martin, the slain Urbandale officer, responded to the call. The young officer was "as good as gold" in helping through the situation, he said.
Wilson said someone broke into his safe and appeared to be preparing to steal inventory before police arrived.
Greene arrived in the store later in the morning to talk with Wilson and “sympathize,” he said.
Greene said he wished he was able to confront the suspect, then showed him a baton, Wilson said.
“He whacks out this telescoping baton and said, ‘Well, first I’ll break their collarbone, and if that doesn’t work they get to meet Mr. 9mm,’” Wilson said, referring to a handgun. “That’s not normal.’
“He was talking about how he was armed all the time and he was a stress victim from the military,” the store owner continued. “I didn’t have a good feeling about having the guy around.”
Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard said his branch of the military shows no record of Greene’s service. Hapgood said he doesn’t believe Greene had served in any branch of the military but deferred confirmation to the National Archives, which did not respond to a request Wednesday.
Resisting a pat-down
Greene was charged with a simple misdemeanor count of interference with official acts on April 10, 2014, when he resisted an attempt by officers to pat him down for weapons at an Urbandale residence on Colby Parkway, according to a criminal complaint.
The officers wanted to search Greene after noticing that he had a pouch on his belt that resembled a holster.
Greene was “non-compliant, hostile, combative and made furtive movements toward his pockets” before the arrest, Officer Chris Greenfield wrote in the complaint. Greenfield also noted that Greene was "known to go armed."
Greene pleaded guilty to the charge about two weeks later.
Two days later, Greene reportedly threatened to kill a man in the parking lot of the same apartment complex and was charged with first-degree harassment, according to another complaint.
In that incident, Greene was accused of approaching a man in the parking lot and shining a flashlight in his eyes.
Greene, who lived in the apartments, called the man the N-word and told the man “I will kill you, (expletive) kill you,” according to the complaint. Greene pleaded guilty to a lesser harassment charge on June 30, 2014, and was sentenced to one year of probation.