‘He lived a life of service’: Colleagues, community remember Fargo officer killed on duty

Family and colleagues described the police officer killed in a shooting Friday as a person long interested in policing and dedicated to service.

Fargo officer Jake Wallin was just three months into his tenure as a police officer when he was fatally shot during a routine investigation of a car crash in Fargo.

The Army veteran entered into service in 2017 as a cannon crewman. He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq from 2020 to 2021. And he was serving with the 151st Field Artillery Battalion at the time of his death.

Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Shawn Manke said Army Sgt. Wallin’s death is a loss to the Guard family.

“The citizen Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard extend our deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Sgt. Jake Wallin,” Manke said in a statement. “His death is a loss to our military family as well. He lived a life of service — not only to his state and nation but his community. We are grateful for his commitment to others even in the face of danger.”

Wallin’s father Jeff Wallin said his son knew he wanted to be a police officer from an early age.

Fargo police shared a tribute video Saturday that showed Wallin during his police training.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always wanted to work in some sort of position that had purpose behind my job and police officer is always what kind of came to me. I’ve tried other careers but I came right back into law enforcement as the career path I wanted to go through,” Wallin said in the video.

Minnesota Police and Peace Officer Association Executive Director Brian Peters said it’s tragic that Wallin’s career was cut short.

“He served our country over in Afghanistan and other places only to come home to face this, which is horrific,” Peters said.

Wallin grew up in St. Michael and community members there grieved his passing on Sunday. In his neighborhood, homeowners changed outside lightbulbs to blue as a sign of respect for the late officer and his family.

Tesa and Christopher Brown said their family was still reckoning with news of Wallin’s death. Their sons grew up with him. The couple said they prayed for the Wallin family Sunday morning at Mass.

“It’s definitely something that hits close to home,” Tesa Brown said. “So they went to school with him and they’ve been chatting back and forth with us about their feelings on it and all we can do is pray for the family.”

She said they found some solace in church.

“It just gives us another opportunity to pray for him to pray for his soul to pray for his family,” Brown said. “We always support the officers. That’s one thing that we do, when we see them parked on the side of the road, we will stop and usually have a gift card for them and a prayer for them. Just to know that this was something that happens but it’s something we pray never happens.”

Laura Nielsen said it was a hard loss for the Minnesota community northwest of the Twin Cities. While she didn’t know Wallin she said she was moved by the video released by Fargo Police that showed him talking about why he joined the force.  “I saw a video of him in training, and it broke my heart,” she said. “I can’t imagine that the beginning of his vocation, he barely had a chance to serve. And it seems like he really was looking forward to serving and protecting the people. And I think it’s heartbreaking.”

Since early April, five law enforcement officers in the region have been killed in the line of duty. In addition to Wallin, the others include two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy from western Wisconsin and one Minnesota deputy.

Peters, with MPPOA, said that police officers were experiencing an increase in violence against them. And more needs to be done to hold offenders to account, he said.

“Officers are facing dangers every day,” Peters said. “There’s just this lawlessness that I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it seems to be everywhere.”

Fargo Police said that the shooting remains under investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI. They said it’s not immediately clear why the suspected gunman Mohamad Barakat, 37, opened fire on the officers and others in the area. Barakat was fatally shot by a Fargo police officer at the scene.

Two officers and a bystander remain hospitalized.

Source: Dana Ferguson MPR News