Flowers and flags are placed at the memorial for fallen Fargo Police Officer Jake Wallin in Fargo, N.D., on Friday. The man who shot three Fargo police officers and a civilian, killing one of the officers before an officer killed him, searched the internet for terms including “explosive ammo” and “kill fast,” as well as for what crowded area events might be happening in and around North Dakota’s largest city, authorities said Friday. Jack Dura/ Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota law enforcement officials on Friday said a gunman searched online for area public events along with the terms “kill fast” and “mass shooting events” before he ambushed police with nearly 40 rounds of gunfire, killing one officer and seriously injuring two others and a civilian before he was fatally shot.

While for now they believe 37-year-old Mohamed Barakat acted alone, a motive for his actions remains unclear.

“We have no reason to believe the public is in further danger,” said Mac Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota said during a Friday news conference. “… Even in the early stage of the investigation, if there was clear evidence of motive we would share it.”

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said investigators believe for now that there were no co-conspirators, and do not believe the shooting was religiously motivated.

Inside Barakat’s car, they found what Schneider described as an “absolute arsenal,” 1,800 rounds, multiple guns and a homemade hand grenade, along with gasoline containers and two propane tanks filled with explosive materials built in his home. The tanks were detonated by a bomb squad, and proved to be very powerful, Wrigley said.

Analysis of Barakat’s devices revealed that as early as 2018, he made online searches that hinted at the plot of a mass shooting, including searches for events that drew crowds in the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as greater Cass County. His final search at 10:30 p.m. the night before the shooting was “thousands enjoy first day of downtown Fargo street fair.”


Sharing for the first time an image of Barakat, Wrigley detailed the scene, which unfolded the afternoon of July 14 minutes after officers responded to a car crash at 25th Street and 9th Avenue S. in Fargo. Barakat, who watched the scene from an adjacent parking lot in his vehicle – the rear windows blacked out by spray paint – started firing at officers from his sedan. He shot and injured three – two police officers and a civilian involved in the crash – and fatally shot officer Jake Wallin.

Fargo officer Zachary Robinson shot at Barakat from about 75 feet away, disabling the .223 caliber long rifle that Wrigley described as having two side-by-side magazines. Barakat reportedly crouched near his car and waved around a 9 mm handgun while Robinson repeatedly directed him to drop his weapon. After refusing to drop his weapon, Robinson fatally shot Barakat.

“From the moment the shooting starts, especially in hindsight when you know the weapon (fired by Barakat), it’s difficult to overstate how dramatically – especially at that distance – outgunned police officer Zach Robinson was,” Wrigley said. “You’ll see that body camera in time and you know we’ll all agree, that man was never outmanned.”

Fargo police officer Jake Wallin, 23, was killed and two others were wounded before a fourth officer killed the suspect. Wallin, a St. Michael native, served in the Minnesota National Guard.

Earlier this week, Wrigley said Robinson’s use of deadly force was “reasonable” and “necessary.”

“It would be horrific enough if this was the end,” Wrigley said of the shootout at the crash scene. But the weapons and ammunition inside Barakat’s car and apartment indicate he was intent on hurting as many people as possible, said Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski.


Officials reiterated Friday it appears the firearms were legally bought and Barakat didn’t have prior convictions that would have prevented him from purchasing weapons.


Wrigley said he believes Barakat intended to survive the shooting, meaning he doesn’t think Barakat planned the attack as a suicide-by-cop situation, because Barakat had trail cameras and other techniques at his apartment to make sure no one entered it in his absence.

As for where Barakat was possibly headed, Wrigley said if Barakat hadn’t stopped at the car crash while driving north, he could have continued on to either the annual downtown street fair or a concert at the Red River Valley Fair.

“We avoided, I think, a major catastrophe in our city. And it’s still a very big tragedy with the loss of officer Wallin,” Zibolski said. “And that’s going to be with us for a while.”

Moorhead resident Joshua Johnson, 23, said Friday he was at the downtown street fair earlier in the day on July 14. He said he enjoys going to the event each year and generally visits downtown Fargo a few times a week.


“It’s frightening to consider something like a mass shooting could happen in Fargo,” he said. “At the same time, I’m extra grateful it didn’t happen.”

Amanda Rydell, who runs a small business with plants and home decorations in downtown Fargo, said she still feels safe but has spent time in the last week thinking about what she would do if there was a shooting at her business.

“It just opens your eyes to what’s going on in our world right now,” she said. “It can happen anywhere. It it doesn’t have to be a big city like Minneapolis.”


Barakat, a Syrian national, came to the United States on an asylum request in 2012, and became a citizen in 2019. He worked various odd jobs, Wrigley said. His contacts with police were limited to a cooking fire at his apartment.

Wrigley said a federal “guardian report” was made some years back about him, but it was not about a threat of violence. Schneider described a guardian report a way for the public as a way to “engage local law enforcement.” He has family in the United States but they don’t live in the area, Wrigley said, and he doesn’t believe Barakat was particularly close with them.


Barakat lived at Bluemont Village Apartments in the 2800 block of 23rd Avenue S., just south of I-94. A records search shows Barakat previously lived at another address in Fargo starting in 2015, but officials didn’t say Friday when he moved to Fargo. Criminal records show one speeding ticket in North Dakota in November 2018.

Barakat was enrolled in the emergency medical services program at North Dakota State College of Science’s Fargo campus in spring 2020, according to a spokesperson for the college.

Neighbors in Bluemont Village Apartments told Valley News Live earlier this week that Barakat seemed standoffish and quiet.

Leon Crooks, a 61-year-old resident of the apartment building, told the Star Tribune on Friday he doesn’t remember seeing Barakat around the complex. Crooks described the residents as working folks who are a mix of ages. He said he and his neighbors are concerned with the amount of weapons and ammunition in Barakat’s apartment.

“Everybody is trying to understand it,” he said.



The FBI and state Bureau of Criminal Investigation are continuing to investigate the attack.

Also shot and injured were Fargo officers Tyler Hawes, 22, and Andrew Dotas, 28, as well as bystander Karlee Koswick, 25, of Cohasset, Mass. As of Friday, all were in good condition and recovering at a local hospital. But they have a long way to go in their recovery, Wrigley said.

Funeral services for Wallin have been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Pequot Lakes (Minn.) High School. Officers from the Fargo Police Department will escort Wallin from Fargo to Pequot Lakes beginning at 5:45 a.m. with arrival estimated at about 9 a.m., according to a spokesperson for the city of Fargo.

Other law enforcement agencies, first responders and the public are encouraged to be present along the route, which includes a memorial loop around the Fargo Police headquarters, as well as areas near the Dellwood Drive frontage road in Baxter, downtown Nisswa along Hwy. 371 or along Patriot Avenue in Pequot Lakes.

The Wallin family and Fargo police will also host a public celebration of life at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

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