Nation & World

Two Iowa police officers killed in 'ambush-style attacks;' manhunt underway in Des Moines area

Two police officers in central Iowa were shot and killed Wednesday in a pair of "ambush-style attacks," the Des Moines Police Department said.

Details remain scant, as the investigation is ongoing. Neither of the officers' names have been released as the families have not yet been notified.

The first shooting occurred at 1:06 a.m. when an officer in Urbandale, which is part of metropolitan Des Moines, responded to a report of shots fired, Sgt. Paul Parizek, a spokesman for Des Moines police, told The Washington Post. The officer was shot while sitting alone in his patrol car at 70th Street and Aurora Ave., next to Urbandale High School. He was pronounced dead on the scene, Parizek said.

About 20 minutes later, Des Moines police officers responding to the shooting of the first officer came across a patrol car at Merle Hay Rd. and Sheridan Dr., an intersection about two miles away, where they found another officer with a gunshot wound, according to Parizek. The officer, who was among those responding, was transported to the Iowa Methodist Medical Center, where he too was pronounced dead.

Police said that the shootings appeared to have been "ambush-style attacks."

"They clearly were just seated in their cars when they were shot," Parizek said. "The best they can tell from the scene there was no interaction between them and whoever did this."

Parizek said police are currently "developing suspect information." They have little information on a suspect, but had received a description of a pickup truck with a topper.

"Everyone that can be on it is," Parizek said at a press conference at 5 a.m. local time. The police in the area "doubled up" its officers, to work in pairs for safety. By 5 a.m. local time, squad cars and mobile command centers lined the street near where the second officer was shot.

"You've got the best police department in the nation right here," Parizek said. "This is what we do, this is who we are. We're going to be here tomorrow."

When asked if there is an active threat, a visibly shaken Parizek said, "There is a clear and present danger to police officers right now."

There have been at least 49 officers shot and killed in the line of duty this year, according to preliminary statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that tracks police deaths. In a report released earlier this year, the fund said that more than half of the officers killed by that point were shot in ambushes.

In some of the fatal cases this year, officers died in high-profile incidents, including ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge in July that left eight police officers dead.

This is the latest tragedy to strike the Des Moines Police Dept. In March, two officers were killed while transporting a prisoner after they were struck head-on by a vehicle driving at more than 100 mph the wrong way down Interstate 80. The blood-alcohol content of the man driving the wrong way was three times the legal limit, according to toxicology tests, WHO reported.