The man, armed with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, a grenade and other explosives in his car, opened a “deadly barrage of fire” as he ambushed officers investigating a routine crash, killing one and injuring two before a fourth stopped him and thwarted what authorities said were plans for further disorder, officials said Wednesday.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said Mohamad Barakat, 37, shot and killed officers Jake Wallin, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes from his car on Friday from 15 to 20 feet before they could draw their weapons. Wallin has been killed, while Dotas and Hawes remain in the hospital in critical condition. Wrigley said Barakat also shot and wounded a bystander who was trying to run when she was hit twice.
But officer Zach Robinson, who happened to be nearby, “disabled” the Barakat .223 rifle with a difficult shot from his own 9mm pistol from a distance of about 75 feet (22.86 meters). Wrigley said that Barakat, who was lying on the ground, picked up a gun and waved it around. Moving closer, Robinson told Barakat to drop his gun 16 times, Wrigley said, and then killed him in a clash that lasted about two minutes.
“Following the bloody unprovoked attack of Mohamad Barakat, the use of lethal force by Officer Zach Robinson was reasonable, necessary, justified and in every sense legal,” Wrigley told reporters. “Mohamad Barakat carried out a brutal attack. … He unleashed what can only fairly be described as a deadly barrage of fire. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t accurate. In fact, that’s how it was.”
According to him, investigators found in Barakat’s car 1,800 rounds of ammunition, three long-barreled shotguns, four handguns, numerous magazines with cartridges, explosives, canisters of gasoline and a homemade hand grenade. Officials released a photograph showing that eight magazines had American flag stickers or decals. Wrigley said that Barakat also had a “shooting vest” that was not bulletproof, but with magazines in every pocket, and that before getting into the car, he took the gun case out of his apartment. There was no mention of whether Barakat had any protective gear.
“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. Police Chief David Zybolski said Barakat’s target was unknown.
Wrigley provided the most detailed account of what happened during the shootout ever provided by the authorities. He said investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack on police, but promised more details about the investigation at a press conference scheduled for Friday.
Wrigley said video evidence shows Barakat was driving and was unfazed before opening fire.
“He looks around the premises, sneaks inside and evaluates his opportunity, and then parks there and spends a few minutes watching the officers and waiting until they literally go,” Wrigley said. “That’s when he raises his weapon from the window and starts shooting. It was an absolute ambush. There is no other way to describe it.”
Wrigley said Robinson showed “absolute bravery under fire” when he moved away from the cover of his vehicle and engaged in a firefight with Barakat, including a shot that “disabled” the suspect’s rifle, leaving approximately 20 rounds unused that could have been fired at other people. Robinson called for help, and as he began to approach Barakat, he saw that his colleagues had been shot dead.
“He said: “We have killed three officers. Send them all,” Wrigley said. “And send everyone they made.”
According to Wrigley, at one point Barakat was wounded and lying on the ground, but he armed himself with a 9mm pistol, which he constantly brandished around under the protection of his vehicle. Barakat continued to disobey Robinson’s repeated orders to drop his gun. Robinson continued to approach and gave him a final command.
“Put the gun down,” He doesn’t say. And the threat was neutralized by the officer,” the Prosecutor General said.
Shortly after the shooting, authorities, including the FBI, gathered in a residential area about 2 miles (3.2 km) away and evacuated residents of the apartment building to gather what they said was relevant evidence. On Wednesday, Wrigley said authorities found several more firearms in the apartment.
The State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are continuing their investigation.
According to an obituary, a memorial service for 23-year-old Wallin is scheduled for Saturday morning in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. A private service will follow the grave at Nisswe, Minnesota Cemetery.
Wallin served in the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq from November 2020 to July 2021. He and Hawes were sworn in less than three months ago and were still in training when they responded to Friday’s crash.
The governors of Minnesota and North Dakota have ordered U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-mast in Wallin’s honor before sunset on Saturday, and urged residents and businesses to do the same.
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