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Fargo Police Officer Murdered, Two More Officers And Bystander Wounded By Gunman

Fargo, ND – A Fargo police officer was murdered, and two other officers remain in hospitalized in critical condition, after a gunman opened fire on a group of first responders when they arrived at a crash scene on Friday afternoon.

The attack occurred in the area of 25th Street South and 9th Avenue South shortly before 3 p.m. on July 14, the Fargo Police Department (FPD) said in a press release on Saturday.

FPD Chief David Zibolski said four officers – two rookies in training and their training officers – responded to a routine traffic collision at that location along with Fargo firefighters, MPR News reported.

The relatively calm scene erupted into chaos when the first responders suddenly came under fire.

“For no known reason at all, a violent gunman attacked our officers,” Chief Zibolski said, according to Alpha News.

The suspect was later identified by investigators as 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat.

Three FPD officers were shot during the attack.

They were identified as Officer Tyler Hawes, Officer Andrew Dotas, and Officer Jake Wallin.

A 25-year-old female bystander was also shot and transported to the hospital with serious injuries, according to investigators.

No firefighters were hit by gunfire, but one of their trucks was damaged by bullets, Chief Zibolski said.

A fourth officer, seven-year FPD Officer Zachary Robinson, “stopped the threat by shooting and killing the suspect,” the department said.

Officer Wallin, 23, died as a result of his injuries.

Chief Zibolski said firefighters immediately rushed in to help the wounded officers, MPR News reported.

“As soon as the shots ended, as soon as that guy was stopped by Officer Robinson, firefighters bounced out and they were applying first aid immediately to our officers,” the chief said. “[Their actions] probably had a very significant impact on [Officer Hawes’ and Officer Dotas’] survival,” the chief said.

Officer Hawes and Officer Dotas were rushed to a local hospital, where they were listed in critical but stable condition on Saturday.

“They’re both in good spirits, but they still have a significant recovery time. Their struggle continues and we hope to have them back as soon as possible,” Chief Zibolski told MPR News.

Officer Robinson was serving as Officer Wallin’s field training officer at the time of the deadly shootout, according to the FPD.

The slain hero had recently graduated from the law enforcement academy with fellow rookie Officer Hawes.

Officer Wallin had been with the department for just three months.

“My desire to serve, it comes directly from the want to have purpose behind my job each and every day,” Officer Wallin said in an interview posted to the FPD’s Facebook page the day after his murder. “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.”

The young officer was also a member of the Minnesota National Guard and deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, MPR News reported.

He was serving with the 151st Field Artillery Battalion at the time of his murder.

The FPD said Officer Wallin graduated from Alexandria Technical and Community College and that he also attended the American Military University.

He joined the FPD on April 19.

Chief Zibolski said Barakat was not involved in the crash the officers were investigating at the time of the attack, MPR News reported.

He also did not have any criminal history in Minnesota or North Dakota.

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, MPR News reported.

Chief Zibolski said the shooting marked one of the most horrific days in the history of the FPD and that it left the entire department reeling, MPR News reported.

“The events of the last 24 hours have been among the most difficult in our department’s nearly 150-year history,” he said. “This was a heinous and unthinkable act of aggression against our officers and the entire metro community.”

“As we all try to comprehend what has transpired and mourn the impact on our team and the entire community, we are bracing for extremely difficult days ahead,” the police chief continued. “We know that we are joined by our metro community in this process and that brings comfort to all of us. Our hearts are heavy, but I can assure you that we never take your support for granted; we can profoundly feel the fabric of this community in your actions, words of encouragement and acts of kindness. Together, we are and will remain the guardians of our Fargo community.”

The Leadership Care Fund is gathering donations to help the families of Officer Wallin, Officer Dotas, and Officer Hawes in the wake of the shooting.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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