Fargo body cam footage shows harrowing moments as gunman fires on police

Images captured from a video show
Footage captured from a bodycam video worn by Officer Zach Robinson from the shooting that killed one officer and injured two others and a citizen on July 14 was played during the Fargo Police Department press conference on Aug. 17.
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Updated: 1:06 p.m.

Authorities in Fargo on Thursday released body camera footage of a man fatally shooting a police officer before another officer killed him on July 14.

The footage shows officers and other first responders at the scene of a car accident, and records the moment a barrage of shots were fired at them. 

“We’ve got a man with an AK-47 — he’s shooting at us!” Officer Zach Robinson yells into his radio.

“Three officers down — send everybody!” he continued. 

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The footage shows Robinson moving toward the shooter, whom police have identified as Mohamad Barakat, as he fired from the side of a car parked just off the street where the initial accident took place. 

“Hands up! Hands up!” Robinson yells repeatedly as he fires at Barakat and moves from the street to the back of the car where Barakat is lying, followed by six commands of “Drop the gun!” as he fires at the suspect. 

A man speaks behind a podium.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley speaks during a press conference in Fargo.
Mathew Holding Eagle III | MPR News

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said Robinson fired 31 rounds at Barakat, hitting him 21 times. 

Wrigley said one minute and 46 seconds elapsed before Robinson “neutralized” Barakat with five shots. 

“This is not television,” Wrigley said. “A minute 46 seconds is a lifetime. That is a very long turn of events.” 

“Over and over he is directed to put the gun down,” said Wrigley. “When he comes around the vehicle the last time–one final time ‘put down the gun’ and he does not put it down.”

Watch the Fargo Police Department press conference

Content warning: The video above features graphic violent footage.

Fargo police officer Jake Wallin was killed by Barakat. Two other officers and a bystander were seriously injured.

Wallin “does unholster his weapon,” Wrigley said. “He does get off one round. Just before he is about to get his left hand to steady the weapon further, he is struck by a single round of Barakat’s 223.” 

Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes were both shot multiple times before they had a chance to respond.

“It was an absolute, complete ambush,” said Wrigley. 

Karlee Koswick, the bystander injured in the shooting, got up off the sidewalk at some point and began to run. 

Wrigley said that drew Barakat’s attention for a moment, and he shot Koswick again.

That’s when Robinson was able to fire his first volley of shots at Barakat and strike him for the first time, Wrigley said, sending Barakat to the ground. 

“Over and over, he is directed to put the gun down,” Wrigley said. “And when he’s shot repeatedly by Robinson, he persists.”

“If I’m Officer Robinson, I’ve got to assume he’s got a Kevlar on,” Wrigley added. “He’s not putting his hands up. He’s trying to put his gun up,” Wrigley said, adding that Robinson acted “appropriately, reasonably, lawfully.”

After the shooting ended, Wrigley recounted while choking up that Hawes “was literally crawling to get to Dotas’ side. To be at his side, to be holding his hand, to be willing him to live.” 

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said Robinson displayed “extreme courage and valor,” adding he also demonstrated “extreme restraint” by giving Barakat opportunities to surrender. “Just a tremendous job on his part,” Zibolski said of Robinson’s actions. 

A man speaks behind a podium.
Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski speaks during a press conference.
Mathew Holding Eagle III | MPR News

Authorities said the review of the incident is continuing, but that Robinson’s actions have been deemed justified. 

“They did an absolutely exemplary job,” Wrigley said, referring to the officers on the scene. 

Wrigley did not offer any more clues as to Barakat’s motive. At a briefing last month he and other officials said Barakat studied mass killings online and armed himself with guns and explosives in preparation for doing it himself.

Zibolski said Robinson underwent a mandatory psychological check-in before returning to duty. He “worked inside for a bit,” Zibolski said, before he “decided he was ready to go back on the street.” 

“We’re encouraged and happy to see his progress,” Zibolski added. “His mental state is good. He knows he did what he had to do.” 

Officers Dotas and Hawes, who were critically injured in the shooting, have been released from the hospital. Koswick also suffered serious injuries.

Authorities said there is more footage that they have not released. 

“It’s still an active investigation and we’re putting out what we’re putting out on a fairly aggressive schedule,” Wrigley said. 

“We’re pacing it, if that’s the right word,” he said, in respect for the sensitive nature of what the footage shows.