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Officials Say Officer Who Shot Fargo Gunman Likely Thwarted Shooter’s Larger Planned Attack

Fargo, ND – The gunman who murdered 23-year-old Fargo Police Officer Jake Wallin and wounded two other police officers and a civilian was heavily armed and may have been planning a mass shooting, according to officials.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said during a news conference on Wednesday that 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat had multiple guns, a hand grenade, and at least 1,800 rounds of ammunition when he carried out the ambush attack on the officers and 25-year-old Karlee Koswick, the Star Tribune reported.

The attack occurred in the area of 25th Street South and 9th Avenue South shortly before 3 p.m. on July 14.

Barakat used a .223-caliber rifle to shoot the officers from his vehicle in a nearby parking lot as they arrived at the crash scene, according to Wrigley.

He also wounded Koswick, who had been involved in the collision, Wrigley added.

Investigators said gunman fired approximately 40 rounds during the attack, the Star Tribune reported.

Barakat’s murderous rampage was stopped by a fourth officer, seven-year FPD veteran Officer Zachary Robinson.

Police said Officer Robinson, 31, shot at the suspect from about 75 feet away to disable the gunman’s rifle, then moved in on him, the Star Tribune reported.

That’s when he realized Barakat was armed with a second weapon – a 9mm handgun.

Barakat ignored Officer Robinson’s commands to drop the firearm, Wrigley said.

Officer Robinson then rounded the back of the vehicle and issued “one last command: ‘Put down the gun,’” the attorney general said, according to the Star Tribune. “He does not, and the threat is neutralized by the officer.”

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said firefighters immediately rushed in to help the wounded officers and civilian, 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 Tyler Hawes’ and Officer Andrew Dotas’] survival,” the chief said.

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

The wounded female victim was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, according to investigators.

Officer Hawes, 22, and Officer Dotas, 28, were also transported 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.

Investigators said they located four handguns, three long rifles, and a suitcase full of weapons inside Barakat’s vehicle, the Star Tribune reported.

Wrigley said the guns appear to have been purchased legally and that there was nothing that would have prevented Barakat from buying them.

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.

“Certainly, this individual had in his disposal the weaponry and the intent and the commitment to place great carnage upon our community,” Chief Zibolski said, according to the Star Tribune. “Had officer Robinson not succeeded … the likelihood that other people in our community would have been harmed is very high.”

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

Wrigley said Officer Robinson’s use of deadly force was entirely justified, the Star Tribune reported.

“In the wake of [Barakat’s] murderous, unprovoked attack, officer Robinson’s use of deadly force was reasonable. It was necessary. It was justified and, in all ways, it was lawful,” the attorney general declared. “[Barakat] engaged in a completely unprovoked assault.”

Chief Zibolski said Officer Robinson was the last line of defense between Barakat and “some pretty horrific acts,” the Star Tribune reported.

“I said to officer Robinson upstairs, it’s absolutely true [that] he was literally the last man standing between what was coming next,” Wrigley added. “And you can see what this assailant was armed for.”

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.

Officer Wallin will be laid to rest on Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

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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