By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) - An Iowa man who had several run-ins with police and was banned from his daughter's high school after waving a Confederate flag was charged with murder on Thursday for the ambush-style slaying of two police officers.
Scott Michael Greene, 46, was arrested after turning himself in to authorities hours after the separate shootings early on Wednesday in Des Moines and the city's suburb of Urbandale. Police have not commented on a motive for the ambush-style assaults.
Greene was taken to jail in the handcuffs of the officers he is accused of ambushing -- Urbandale officer Justin Martin, 24, and Des Moines Police Department Sergeant Anthony Bemino, 38, the Des Moines Register reported.
If convicted, Greene faces an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole.
The shootings were the latest in a string of attacks on police across the country during the past several months, at a time of intense public debate over racial bias and the use of lethal force in the U.S. criminal justice system.
However, Greene is white, as were both victims in Wednesday's shootings.
A police dog helped officers find a rifle believed to be the firearm used in the killings.
It was hidden in a wooded area near where Greene's pickup truck was found bogged down and abandoned off the road, said Des Moines Police Department spokesman Sergeant Paul Parizek.
After his arrest, Greene was treated at a local hospital for a pre-existing medical condition, police have said.
Parizek said he did not know if the suspect suffered from mental illness. He said Greene had been "quiet and out of it" since he was taken into custody.
KNOWN TO POLICE
The first victim, Martin, was found in his cruiser near the local high school where Greene was expelled by police last month after waving a Confederate flag during a football game.
The body of the second officer, Bemino, was discovered some 20 minutes later about 2 miles (3 km) away.
Urbandale Police Chief Ross McCarty said on Wednesday that most of his officers were familiar with Greene, who lived in the town.
In 2014, Greene pleaded guilty to interference with official acts in an incident involving police. The same year, he also pleaded guilty to harassment and was placed on probation for a year. Court records did not specify the nature of the underlying offenses.
Greene, who said in a 2007 bankruptcy filing that he was single with three children, was charged in 2001 with assault and criminal mischief for allegedly hurling a soda can from the window of a vehicle, but those charges were dismissed.
The Des Moines Register, citing neighbors and court records, reported that Greene had been living with his mother, who moved out of the house after a recent fight with her son that led to her being charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)