Fire Chief: Fargo Firefighters first to report gunfire exchange between police and shooting suspect

Courtesy: Curt Stibal
Courtesy: Curt Stibal

(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo City Officials say the firefighters were the first to report a fatal shooting that killed a Fargo Police Officer on Friday. 

Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen spoke about Friday's fatal shooting that killed Fargo Officer Jake Wallin and critically injured three others; including Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes. Dirksen says the firefighters, who were on the scene to clear an unrelated crash, were about to leave when the gunshots first rang out. 

"Our folks ended up in the middle of everything," said Dirksen on WDAY Radio's Bonnie and Friends

Dirksen says as the shooting started, the fire captain on scene made reports to Red River Regional Dispatch about the number of officers down and the eventual incapacitation of the suspect. These reports were the first calls for assistance from officials on scene according to the Fire Chief. Once the shots stopped, the firefighters put on ballistic vests and helmets and immediately gave aid to the three downed officers who received gunshot wounds. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney credits those firefighters and flak jackets with saving the lives of both Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes. 

"Those officers got the best care almost immediately," said Dirksen

Dirksen says the firetruck took at least one bullet, but Dirksen says firefighters heard multiple rattlings and sounds of ricochet against the vehicle. 

The Fire Chief also spoke about a previous encounter with the suspect, 37-year-old Fargo resident Mohamad Barakat. Dirksen says they responded to his apartment building at one point in the past, and vaguely recalls Barakat's apartment was involved. However, The Chief says he is not confident in the exact facts of this encounter, and wanted to look into the mater more before he could make an official statement. 

You can watch our coverage of the July 15th press conference by clicking here

Original Air Date: 
Tuesday, July 18, 2023