North Dakota officer killed in Fargo ambush is to be laid to rest Saturday in Minnesota

22 July 2023

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The Fargo police officer who was responding to a routine traffic crash when he was ambushed and fatally shot by a heavily armed man will be laid to rest Saturday.

Jake Wallin, 23, was killed July 14 when a man armed with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, multiple guns and explosives began firing. Two other officers and a civilian were wounded before a fourth officer returned fire, killing gunman Mohamad Barakat. Police said the actions of that fourth officer likely spared the city from a bigger, bloodier attack.

Wallin, who had been sworn in as a Fargo police officer in April and was still in field training, was cremated in his uniform. On Saturday, the Fargo Police Department will escort his cremains to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, where a funeral service will be held.

A military veteran, Wallin served in the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq from November 2020 to July 2021, according to a spokesperson for the Minnesota National Guard.

He will receive final military honors at a private interment.

“He served his country, came back here and wanted nothing more but to serve in a position with purpose and meaning — his exact words — and he did that,” Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said at a media briefing after the shooting.

Authorities played a video that showed Wallin training with fellow recruits and speaking of his desire to become an officer.

“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 in the video. “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.”

Flags in Minnesota and North Dakota have been ordered flown at half-staff through Saturday.

On Friday, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley provided more details about the attack, which also wounded Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes and the civilian, who had been involved in the crash.

Barakat was a Syrian national who came to the U.S. on an asylum request in 2012 and became a U.S. citizen in 2019, Wrigley said.

Over the last five years, he had been searching the internet for terms including “kill fast,” “explosive ammo,” “incendiary rounds,” and “mass shooting events,” Wrigley said.

But perhaps the most chilling search was for “area events where there are crowds,” which on July 13 brought up a news article with the headline, “Thousands enjoy first day of Downtown Fargo Street Fair.” On the day of the attack, the downtown fair was in its second day and was less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the crash scene.

Barakat also searched for information on the Red River Valley Fair, which was just a 6-mile (10-kilometer) drive from the scene, the attorney general said.

Had Officer Zach Robinson not killed Barakat, authorities said, they shudder to think how much worse the attack might have been. Wrigley said Barakat had an “obvious motive to kill” and was driven by hate, but it was not directed toward any particular group.

There was no evidence that suggested a hatred of police, and all evidence suggests that Barakat came upon the crash by “happenstance” and his ensuing ambush was a diversion from his much bigger intended target, Wrigley said.

Exactly what that target was is unknown, and Wrigley described Robinson as “the last man standing in that blue line at that moment.”

“What he was standing between was not just the horrible events that were unfolding there, but between the horrible events that Mohamad Barakat had envisioned, planned and intended and armed himself for,” he said.

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