IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The two Iowa police officers who were shot and killed in separate ambush-style attacks Wednesday are being remembered as friendly public servants.
Des Moines police Sgt. Anthony "Tony" Beminio seemed to always have a smile, while Urbandale officer Justin Martin is recalled as a "kind, gentle, compassionate" person who was just beginning a career in law enforcement.
ANTHONY "TONY" BEMINIO
Tony Beminio was a big guy with a big smile.
The Des Moines police sergeant is remembered as a 38-year-old father, a dedicated and popular officer, and a star athlete in high school.
Beminio was a standout football player and heavyweight wrestler at Iowa City West High School. He was a lineman on the 1995 team that went 13-0 and won the state championship.
"He was physically just an imposing person, but he was just a big teddy bear when you got to know him," said his former teammate, David Lane. "He'd smile all the time, even if you didn't know him. That's just how he came across."
Beminio played football at the University of Northern Iowa and then at Simpson College in Indianola, where he graduated in 2001 with a criminal justice degree.
Lane said nobody was surprised when Beminio followed his father, Frank, a now-retired small-town Iowa police chief, into law enforcement. Tony Beminio started working for the Indianola Police Department, then joined the Des Moines Police Department in 2005.
Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said Beminio was promoted to sergeant last year and served on patrol. He had worked as a school resource officer at two Des Moines high schools and as a robbery and homicide detective before his promotion, he said.
"Very popular officer," said Parizek, who worked with him on midnight patrol for several years.
Parizek said Beminio was married with children but details on his survivors weren't immediately available.
Justin Martin became a police officer because he wanted to serve the public.
The 24-year-old rookie officer was thrilled when he landed an internship at the Urbandale Police Department last year, while he was a senior at Simpson College in Indianola. By the time he graduated with a degree in criminal justice, he was happy to accept a full-time job from the suburban Des Moines department.
Martin, who was single, had just begun patrolling by himself in August.
He grew up with one brother in Rockwell City, a town of around 1,700 people about 100 miles northwest of Des Moines. Both of his parents are educators — his dad a principal at a local high school and his mother an elementary school teacher.
Martin is remembered as a hardworking student who played football and basketball, ran track and swam at Rockwell City-Lytton High School, where he graduated in 2011. He was an Eagle Scout.
"He always wanted to do his best, anything that he could do for the school and for his family. I think he gave himself fully into whatever activity or his school work," said schools superintendent Jeff Kruse. "We're losing somebody that wanted to serve his community and to give back in a positive manner for the things that had been given to him."
Fred Jones, a sociology and criminal justice professor at Simpson College who served as Martin's faculty adviser, said Martin was determined to become a police officer.
"He was a kind, gentle, compassionate man who was always concerned with serving the public," Jones said in a statement issued by the school. "That's why he went into police work. He was smart and had great social skills. He just had it all."
Assistant professor Samantha O'Hara added: "When he was in our classes, he always had a quick, ready smile and a positive vibe."