Fargo officer slain in shooting was a ‘member of our family,’ police chief says

17 July 2023

FARGO, N.D. — From Day 1 with the Fargo Police Department, Officer Jake Wallin made his colleagues laugh.

So much so that Chief David Zibolski remembered him by name, though the chief said he wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce it at first. When Wallin said Wal-leen, putting extra emphasis on the last syllable, everyone laughed, Zibolski said.

“He meant a lot to the department,” Zibolski said before playing a video to give people a sense of who Wallin was.

Fargo Police Officer Jake Wallin trains at the Fargo Police Academy in this undated photo. (Courtesy of the Fargo Police Department)

The 23-year-old officer who was sworn in by the Fargo Police Department less than three months ago was killed Friday afternoon as he and other officers responded to what Zibolski called a routine crash response. As officers arrived on the scene, 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat of Fargo opened fire for an unknown reason, Zibolski said Saturday afternoon during a news conference announcing the names of those involved in the shooting.

“It’s a really sad tragedy that he is no longer with us,” Zibolski said.

The gunfire killed Wallin and injured Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes. Dotas and Hawes were in “critical stable condition with serious injuries” as of Saturday afternoon.

Officer Zachary Robinson, a seven-year veteran with the Fargo Police Department, shot and killed Barakat. He was training Wallin at the time of the shooting.

Robinson’s actions stopped a threat of harm to others, Zibolski said. Per police policy, Robinson has been placed on administrative leave while the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation reviews the incident.

Wanting to have purpose

A native of St. Michael, Minnesota, Wallin graduated from Alexandria Technical and Community College before attending the American Military University in Charles Town, West Virginia. He served in the Minnesota National Guard and was deployed numerous times for military missions, Zibolski said.

A video played during the news conference showed Wallin training with the department. He said he had been to more countries than states, alluding to his time in the National Guard.

Wallin said in the video his desire to be a police officer came from wanting to have a job that had purpose instead of sitting in an office wondering why he was there every day. Police officer is what came to mind, he said.

“I want to be out. I want to be doing something that I can tell myself that I made a difference somehow,” Wallin said.

He did just that, Zibolski said. Wallin graduated from the Fargo Police Academy and was sworn in as an officer April 19. His father pinned his badge on him during the ceremony.

Zibolski called Wallin a funny and smart person who performed impressively in the police academy. He also was doing well in field training, the chief said.

“He was a member of our family, and he’s been taken from us far too soon,” Zibolski said.

Others involved

Wallin was participating in his field training when he was shot, as was Hawes. Hawes completed the police academy with Wallin after graduating from the University of Minnesota-Morris. He also worked as a corrections officer.

Dotas was serving as Hawes’ training officer when he was shot. A six-year veteran with the Fargo Police Department, Dotas is a member of the crowd management team, Red River SWAT negotiations team and a motorcycle officer.

Both Dotas and Robinson are master sergeants with the North Dakota Air National Guard 119th Wing, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann said in a statement.

Dohrmann, who serves as the North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, expressed his sympathies and hopes for recovery. He also commended Robinson’s actions during the shooting.

“Yesterday’s tragic event is felt across the entire state,” Dohrmann said. “In both their military and civilian roles, Andrew and Zach dedicate their lives to their community, state and nation with incredible selflessness and courage.”

Little information is known about Barakat. A background check revealed no criminal history. Zibolski said officers previously had contact with Barakat but nothing “significant.”

Barakat died at a hospital, according to a news release.

Police identified the civilian injured as a 25-year-old woman. She is in critical condition with serious injuries, the Fargo Police Department said.

Related Articles

News |

Fargo police officer dies, two others in critical condition following street shootout

News |

North Dakota lawyer pleads no contest to fatally bludgeoning ex-wife in Minnesota

News |

North Dakota medical waste facility says a human torso was delivered to its site and is suing

News |

North Dakota university leaders fear ‘catastrophic implications’ of new Minnesota free tuition plan

News |

bill alkofer, former Pioneer Press photojournalist, dies at 61

Need help?

If you need support, please send an email to [email protected]

Thank you.