FBI holding news conference today to detail Fargo police officer killing

July 21, 2023

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — It was a routine collision on a busy Fargo street. But after Mohamad Barakat drove past, armed with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, numerous firearms and a grenade, tragedy ensued.

After the shooting ended on July 14, one police officer was dead, and two other officers as well as a woman in the crash were wounded, leaving authorities wondering what further carnage Barakat might have been planning.

Officer Zach Robinson, the only officer in the melee who was not wounded, fatally shot Barakat with bystanders crouched nearby. More details are expected at a briefing  today (Friday).

Barakat, a 37-year-old who briefly trained as an emergency responder at a nearby community college, had no criminal record. No social media presence.

But then he saw the collision. With police and firefighters tied up helping, Barakat began “stalking his way in and sizing up his opportunity,” North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley told reporters Wednesday in the most detailed update yet.

Barakat parked, watching for minutes until the officers walked away, about 15 to 20 feet (5 to 6 meters) from him. Then he lifted a .223-caliber rifle out of his car window and began firing in what Wrigley called “an absolute ambush” and “a murderous barrage of fire.”

The officers “had no time” to reach for their holstered guns with Barakat’s fusillade “so rapid,” Wrigley said.

Barakat, who lived in an apartment two miles away, was using a double-stacked magazine. He killed Officer Jake Wallin, 23, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Minnesota Army National Guard. The barrage also left Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes critically wounded.

Wallin and Hawes were so new that they were still undergoing field training.

Barakat also hit Karlee Koswick, who was involved in the traffic collision, with two rounds as she ran away.

Robinson, who was in the street about 75 feet away from Barakat, “was the last man standing between what was coming next and what you can see this assailant was armed for,” Wrigley said.

Robinson moved from behind a vehicle involved in the crash and fired at Barakat. One of his shots disabled Barakat’s rifle, leaving 20 rounds unused after the killer fired 40.

“We have three officers down; send everybody,” Robinson said over the radio, after moving closer and noticing the fallen officers.

A wounded Barakat lay on the ground protected by his car, waving a 9 mm handgun. Robinson moved closer, calling out 16 times for Barakat to surrender.

Robinson came around the vehicle and gave one last command to Barakat to put down the gun before shooting him, said Wrigley, who called Robinson’s use of deadly force “justified.”