The motive remains unknown after 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat opened fire on police following a traffic accident in Fargo, North Dakota. Barakat killed Officer Jake Wallen, who was a graduate of Fargo Police Academy and became an FPD Officer on April 19. He was 23 years old.
Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes were also shot and are in serious but stable condition at a local hospital. Hawes and Wallen attended the police academy together, and both started their police careers only three months ago.
According to the City of Fargo, police officer Zachary Robinson, a seven-year FPD team member, stopped the threat by shooting and killing the suspect. Robinson served as Wallin’s training officer at the time of the incident.
A 25-year-old woman from Fargo was also shot and transported from the scene to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Police Chief David Zibolski identified the perpetrator but gave few details about him and the shooting.
Officers had responded to what Zibolski called a routine traffic accident at a busy intersection on Friday when Barakat, who reportedly was not involved in the accident, opened fire.
According to Fox News, Wallin had served in the Minnesota Army National Guard and deployed to Afghanistan before becoming a police officer:
“He served his country, came back here, and wanted nothing more than to serve in a position with purpose and meaning — his exact words — and he did,” Zibolski said.
Witness Chenoa Peterson told the Associated Press that the gunman appeared to ambush the officers from behind a car in a bank parking lot near the accident:
“He held up the trunk of the car with his arm, and then I see the gun come up, and he put it on his shoulder and pointed it right at an officer in front of him,” Peterson said. “It was like ten shots at once.”
After the shooting, the police went to a residential building a few kilometers from the scene, where they evacuated residents and collected evidence.
Zibolski said he was confident investigators would find a motive.
The State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are investigating the incident.
As crime reporter April Baumgarten writes, there is very little information about the perpetrator.
Very little is known about the shooter. I couldn’t find a criminal history, only a couple of traffic tickets. He is 37 and lived in Fargo at the time of the shooting. He had contact with police before, but nothing “significant,” the police chief said.
— April Baumgarten (@aprilbaumsaway) July 16, 2023
The tragic case will be updated as more information becomes available.
Father of fallen Fargo officer says son lived a life of service.
Elisabeth Rooney is the USA correspondent for Document News and lives in Florida.