BISMARCK, ND — (FloridaToday.news) — It was a routine encounter on a busy Fargo street. But after Mohamad Barakat drove past, armed with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, numerous firearms and a grenade, tragedy struck.
After the shooting ended on July 14, one police officer was killed and two other officers, as well as a woman in the crash, were injured, leading authorities to wonder what further massacre Barakat might have been planning.
Officer Zach Robinson, the only officer in the hand-to-hand combat who was not wounded, fatally shot Barakat as bystanders cowered nearby. More details are expected at a briefing on Friday.
Barakat, a 37-year-old man who briefly trained as a lifeguard at a nearby community college, had no criminal record. No social media presence.
But then he saw the collision. With the help of police and firefighters, Barakat began to “sneak in and evaluate his options,” North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley told reporters Wednesday in the most detailed report.
Barakat parked, watching for several minutes until the officers left, about 15–20 feet (5–6 meters) away from him. He then pulled a .223 rifle from the window of his car and began firing what Wrigley called “an absolute ambush” and “deadly fire”.
According to Wrigley, the officers “didn’t have time” to draw their holstered pistols because of Barakat’s “so rapid” fire.
Barakat, who lived in an apartment 2 miles (3 km) away, used a double-stack magazine. He killed 23-year-old officer Jake Wallin, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Minnesota Army National Guard. Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes were also badly wounded in the shelling.
Wallin and Hawes were so new that they were still in field training.
Barakat also hit Carly Coswick, who was involved in a traffic accident, twice while she was running away.
Robinson, who was on the street about 75 feet (23 meters) from Barakat, “was the last man standing between what was going to happen next and what you see this assailant was armed for,” Wrigley said.
Robinson stepped out from behind the car involved in the accident and fired at Barakat. One of his shots disabled Barakat’s rifle, leaving 20 rounds unused after the killer had fired 40 rounds.
“We have three officers killed; send them all,” Robinson said over the radio, coming closer and noticing the fallen officers.
The wounded Barakat lay on the ground under the protection of his vehicle, brandishing a 9mm pistol. Robinson moved closer, urging Barakat to surrender 16 times.
Robinson walked around the car and gave a final command to Barakat to lower his gun before firing at him, said Wrigley, who called Robinson’s use of lethal force “justified.”
According to Fargo Police Chief David Zybolski, the shootout lasted about two minutes and was still longer than usual. Wrigley noted that Robinson fired about 30 rounds and had to stop to reload.
Zybolski said it could have been worse if there were no ambulances already there, including ambulances. As soon as the shooting stopped, “the firemen jumped out and immediately gave first aid to our officers,” Zybolski said.
According to Wrigley, before getting behind the wheel, Barakat rolled a suitcase with weapons out of his apartment. In his car, investigators found a homemade hand grenade, as well as a vest with loaded magazines, firearms, and canisters of gasoline. There were more weapons in his apartment.
“If you look at the amount of ammo this shooter had in the car, you can tell that he was planning to create even more riots in our community,” Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said.
The Attorney General said he believed the violence could have been the start of a mass shooting when the Fargo Street Downtown Fair and the Red River Valley Fair were held.
The police chief said that Barakat “apparently was determined to do some pretty heinous acts, the purpose of which is currently unknown.” Authorities said the motive is unknown.
While the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are working on this case, the wounded are recovering, their condition is good or stable. Meanwhile, a memorial service is scheduled for Saturday for Wallin, whose body was cremated in a police uniform.
Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.