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23-year-old N.D. officer killed after suspect started shooting during traffic crash

Two other officers, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes, were critically wounded in the shooting


Wallin, 23, was in the field as an officer in training, having become a Fargo police officer less than three months ago.

Photo/Fargo PD

Duty Death: Jake Wallin - [Fargo]

End of Service: 14/07/2023

By Jack Dura
Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — A gunman opened fire on police and firefighters “for no known reason” as they responded to a traffic crash in North Dakota, killing one officer and wounding two others before another officer killed him, Fargo’s police chief said Saturday.

Chief David Zibolski said officer Jake Wallin, a military veteran, was killed in the shooting Friday afternoon. Two other officers, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes, were wounded. A fourth officer, Zach Robinson, shot and killed the suspect, Zibolski said.

A 25-year-old woman was also injured, but authorities did not say who shot her. The gunman did not hit any firefighters, Zibolski said, but a fire truck was struck by gunfire.

Zibolski identified the suspect as Mohamad Barakat, 37, of Fargo, but provided few details about him or the shooting, citing officials’ desire to protect the investigation. He said he was confident authorities would eventually determine the motive.

“The first thing we always want to know in a situation like this is, ‘Why?’” he said. “Why would somebody do this? What happened?’”

He said the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI were investigating.

Barakat did not appear to have been involved in the crash police were working when he began firing, Zibolski said.

Asked if Barakat was known to police, Zibolski said, “I believe we have had contact with him, but not anything significant.”

He also said he he did not know what kind of gun Barakat used.

Several people witnessed the crash and the shooting, which occurred on a busy Fargo street.

Chenoa Peterson told The Associated Press that she saw a car crash and police standing around as she was driving with her 22-year-old daughter. Then a man pulled out a gun and began firing at police: “He proceeds to aim it and you just hear the bullets go off, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God! He’s shooting!’”

One woman said she was driving when she saw the officers fall.

“I saw the traffic stop and as soon as I drove, shots were fired and I saw the cops go down,” Shannon Nichole told KFGO Radio. “My airbag went off and the bullet went through my driver’s door.”

At the time of the shooting, Wallin, 23, of St. Michael, Minnesota, was in the field as an officer in training, having become a Fargo police officer less than three months ago.

“He meant a lot to the department. He had an excellent sense of humor,” Zibolski said of the slain officer, who had also deployed to Afghanistan as part of the U.S. military. He recalled that on his first day on the job, Wallin jokingly corrected the chief on the pronunciation of his surname, saying, “‘It’s wah-LEEN.’”

In video played at a Saturday news conference showing Wallin training with fellow recruits, he spoke of his desire to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“Throughout my entire life, I’ve always wanted to work in some sort of position that had purpose behind my job and police officer is always what kind of came to me,” Wallin said. “I don’t want to be sitting in an office wondering why I’m here every day. I want to be out, I want to be doing something that I can tell myself at the end of the day I made a difference somehow.”

For nine hours after the shooting, police had called it only a “critical incident.” Early details emerged from people who said they witnessed the shooting or heard gunshots. Shortly after the shooting, officers converged on a residential area about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away and evacuated residents while gathering what they said was related evidence.