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Police Have Person Of Interest In Shootings Of 2 Des Moines-Area Officers

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And we're following some tragic news from Iowa. Two police officers were shot and killed in their vehicles early this morning. These were in separate locations. One in the city of Des Moines, the other in neighboring Urbandale. We're waiting to learn the identities of the officers and also the identity of a, quote, "person of interest" the authorities are searching for. A few minutes ago, we spoke with Sgt. Chad Underwood of the Urbandale Police Department.

Could you just tell me what happened as far as you know at this point?

CHAD UNDERWOOD: This morning, approximately 1 o'clock, officers from Urbandale Police Department responded to an investigative report of shots fired in the area of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue in our city. First officers to arrive at the scene found an Urbandale Police Department vehicle, an officer had been shot. Des Moines police officers arrived as well as other police officers from surrounding areas responding to the area to assist, investigate what had happened. About 20 minutes later, a Des Moines Police Department officer was found shot in the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Sheridan Drive in their city.

These two locations are 2 to 3 miles from each other. Both officers are both deceased. And the shootings appear to be an ambush-style attack. At this time, we're working on releasing a person of interest, which we should be releasing here within the next half-hour or so. And we also will be having another news briefing to release that information to the public and to the media.

GREENE: Do you believe the same person did both shootings?

UNDERWOOD: We do believe that at this point. We have no reason not to believe that. But, again, both of these are early on in their investigation. And as we get information, we'll push it out. At this point, we have one person that we're - we'd like to speak with in regards to both incidents.

GREENE: Urbandale, give me a sense of what the community is like. Is this, like, a suburb of Des Moines?

UNDERWOOD: It is. It's a suburb on the western edge of Des Moines. We do share a border with Des Moines on Des Moines' west side. It's a town of just over 40,000 people. Just over 50 sworn police officers serve that community.

GREENE: It's a relatively small department?

UNDERWOOD: Yes.

GREENE: Do you know the officer who was killed?

UNDERWOOD: Of course I know the officer, but we're not going to release any information until we make sure everybody's been contacted, that needs to be contacted.

GREENE: Well, I'm sorry for your loss. I know this is - how painful I'm sure this is this morning. Anything like this ever happened before in your career in the department?

UNDERWOOD: We've had a few tragic incidents, but I don't believe we've lost an officer in the line of duty, at least to my knowledge.

GREENE: All right, sergeant, I'll let you get back to work. I know it's going to be a busy morning. And sorry for your loss.

UNDERWOOD: Thank you. I appreciate that.

GREENE: And thanks for joining us this morning.

UNDERWOOD: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.