FARGO, ND — (TodayNews) — A Fargo police officer who was responding to a routine traffic accident in which he was ambushed and fatally shot by a heavily armed man will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Jake Wallin, 23, was killed on July 14 when a man armed with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, multiple pistols and explosives started shooting. Two other officers and a civilian were wounded before a fourth officer returned fire, killing militant Mohamad Barakat. Police said the actions of this fourth officer likely saved the city from a larger and bloodier attack.
Wallin, who was sworn in as a Fargo police officer in April and was still undergoing field training, was cremated in his uniform. On Saturday, the Fargo Police Department will escort his remains to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, for a memorial service.
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 Minnesota National Guard spokesman.
He will receive final military honors at a private burial.
“He served his country, came back here and wanted nothing more than to serve in office with purpose and meaning — his exact words — and he did it,” Fargo Police Chief David Zybolski said at a media briefing following the shooting.
Authorities released a video showing Wallin training with other recruits and talking about his desire to become an officer.
“All my life, I have always wanted to work in some position that had a purpose behind my work, and the police officer has always been who I was,” Wallin said in the video. “I don’t want to sit in the office and think every day why I’m here. I want to get out. I want to do something that I can tell myself at the end of the day that I made a difference somehow.”
In Minnesota and North Dakota, flags were ordered to be flown at half-mast until Saturday.
On Friday, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley provided more details about the attack, which also injured Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes and a civilian involved in the crash.
According to Wrigley, Barakat was a Syrian citizen who came to the US seeking asylum in 2012 and became a US citizen in 2019.
Over the past five years, Wrigley said, he’s searched the Internet for terms like “quick kill,” “high-explosive munitions,” “incendiary rounds,” and “mass shooting.”
But perhaps the most intimidating search was for “local events where there are crowds.” On July 13, a news article appeared with the headline “Thousands Enjoy First Day of Downtown Fargo Street Fair”. On the day of the attack, the downtown fair was on its second day and was less than 3 miles (5 km) from the crash site.
Barakat was also looking for information about a fair in the Red River Valley, which was only 6 miles (10 km) from the scene, according to the attorney general.
If Officer Zach Robinson had not killed Barakat, authorities say they shudder at the thought of how much worse the attack could have been. Wrigley said that Barakat had “an obvious motive for the murder” and was driven by hatred, but it was not directed at any particular group.
There was no evidence pointing to hatred of the police, and all evidence suggests that Barakat was in the accident “accidentally” and his ensuing ambush was a distraction from his much larger intended target, Wrigley said.
It is not known exactly what the target was, and Wrigley described Robinson as “the last man standing in that blue line at that moment”.
“He stood between not only the terrible events that were unfolding there, but also between the terrible events that Mohamad Barakat foresaw, planned, intended and armed,” he said.
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