UPDATED: Wrigley: Officer Zach Robinson was 'reasonable, justified and lawful' in shooting Mohamad Barakat

Photo Courtesy: North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation
Photo Courtesy: North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

(FARGO) – The community is learning more about the circumstances surrounding the officer who shot and killed 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat on Friday, after he shot and killed Fargo Police officer Jake Wallin and injured two other officers, and a bystander, as a result of an ‘unprovoked attack’ in South Fargo.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said officer Zachary Robinson’s use of deadly force against Barakat "was reasonable, necessary, justified, and in all ways, it was lawful."

“Mohamad Barakat engaged in savage attack,” Wrigley said. “He engaged in completely unprovoked assault by firing a long rifle.”

Multiple rounds were shot at officers Wallin, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes. Wrigley said the bystander, identified as Karlee Koswick, was hit with two single live rounds.

Barakat was in his car when he shot at the officers – in a ‘rapid fire’ succession. One of the shots from Robinson’s weapon disabled Barakat’s long rifle, according to Wrigley. He said approximately 20 rounds would have been still available to Barakat had the weapon not become disabled.

After the disabling of the long rifle, Wrigley says the investigation shows that Barakat re-armed himself with a nine-millimeter handgun, which he was waving around.

Officer Robinson gave multiple, repeated directives to Barakat – while firing at Barakat.

With danger to himself and life, and civilians, Robinson continued to close ground on Barakat, giving one last command, before neutralizing the threat. Wrigley said 40 rounds were used prior by Barakat before being neutralized.

At the press conference, Wrigley shared photos taken by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

He said Barakat was not involved in the car accident.

“Nor could he have known that it (the accident) happened,” Wrigley said. “It was a pure fate moment that he happened upon this scene, and all of these officers were out there.”

Barakat, according to Wrigley, shot at the officers from inside his vehicle.

“He absolutely ambushed them from inside that vehicle,” he said. “They had no way to know.”

Multiple weapons were found inside the vehicle, all of which were loaded, Wrigley said. The weapons were legally purchased, according to information investigators had received as of Wednesday afternoon.

“He was not a prohibited person,” Wrigley said. “He did not have convictions that would have precluded him from lawfully carrying firearms.”

Among the items found in the vehicle were explosives, canisters with gasoline, a homemade hand grenade, fully operable with a fuse out of the top and a shooting, non-bulletproof vest with fully-loaded magazines.

Wrigley said there were 1,800 live .223 rounds in Barakat’s possession, which could have fit any of the three long rifles he held in his possession. Four handguns were also found, along with a suitcase with weapons. The suitcase was rolled out of his vehicle just prior to the incident, according to Wrigley.

A search warrant was executed on the residence, where additional firearms and items were seized.

Fargo Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney also classified the shooting as an ambush, but it could have been worse if not for Officer Robinson.

“Had Zach not neutralized the shooter, we would have had many more casualties,” Mahoney said. “When you look at the amount of ammunition this shooter had in his car, he was planning on more mayhem in our community.”

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said most gunfights last just seconds – and Friday’s gunfight lasted more than two minutes.

“That’s a hell of an effort, and it’s an incredible act of valor and heroism,” he said.

Wrigley said the incident could have ended worse, as the Fargo Street Fair and Red River Valley Fair were going on at the same time. He would not elaborate further, but said Friday’s press conference would reveal why the authorities had reason to believe they know where Barakat was headed.

Fargo Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
(1 of 4) Fargo Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney