Investigators tight-lipped on fatal Fargo shooting; here’s what authorities are — and are not — saying

FARGO — Authorities are answering few questions about a Friday, July 14, shooting in Fargo that killed a police officer, including why the shooter opened fire.

The Fargo Police Department has declined to discuss the Friday shooting that killed 23-year-old Officer Jake Wallin. Fargo Chief Communications Officer Gregg Schildberger referred questions to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI, noting the state agency is leading the investigation.

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski did not return a message left by The Forum seeking comment on this story, but City Deputy Chief Communications Officer Katie Ettish said in an email that he was unavailable for an interview with The Forum on Monday.

“The first thing we always want to know in a situation like this is why,” Zibolski said Saturday during a news conference identifying those involved in the incident. “Why would somebody do this? What happened?”

Questions remain unanswered about the motive behind the actions of 37-year-old Fargo resident Mohamad Barakat, who Zibolski identified as the shooter.

The Forum asked authorities how Barakat came to North Dakota, how long he lived in the state, what kind of gun he used, how he obtained it and whether the firearm was obtained legally.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, who oversees the BCI, said the case remains “a very active investigation,” adding he couldn’t comment. He said he is committed to discussing the case when the investigation is complete, though he didn’t have a timeline for when that would happen.

When asked about motive, including indications that Barakat’s actions were part of a terror attack, Wrigley said the BCI doesn’t have enough information to make an assessment on that. Agents are being open-minded and gathering as much information as possible before drawing conclusions, he said.

“All of that is being assessed,” he said. “We are making a full and complete assessment of this individual, his affiliations, his connections and the possibility of others’ involvement.”

‘I’d like to know why’

Wrigley confirmed the BCI is the lead investigating agency, but he described efforts to find out what happened as a joint investigation with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

“We’re on the ground here,” Wrigley said. “It’s fair to say that the BCI is the lead investigative agency on it, but we are working very much hand-in-glove with the FBI. They’ve been very helpful.”

The FBI did not return a message requesting comment. North Dakota U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider, who was present during the Saturday news conference, declined to comment on the case, including why the FBI was involved.


Source:  Grand Forks Herald-by April Baumgarten July 17, 2023