Fargo Police releases interview with Officer's account in fatal shootout that stopped a possible mass casualty event

Courtesy: Fargo Police Department
Courtesy: Fargo Police Department

(Fargo, ND) -- The Fargo Police Department released a prepared internal interview with the officer who took down a suspect who is accused of planning and attempting to carry out a mass casualty event in the city. 

"I knew I needed help and I needed it now."

Officer Zach Robinson spoke for the first time in an hour-long interview conducted in collaboration with Fargo's Police Department and the City's Communication team about the fatal officer involved shooting on July 14th. The shooting claimed the lives of Rookie Officer Jake Wallin and suspect Mohamad Barakat, and severely injured Officers Andrew Dotas, Tyler Hawes, and bystander Karlee Koswick. 

The Fargo Police Department released an abridged version of the interview on their YouTube page. 


Officer Robinson says the call was like any of the other minor car accidents he has attended all of his career. Officers Dotas, Hawes, and Wallin were directing traffic and speaking to the people involved in the crash when approximately 20 gunshots rang out from a vehicle parked approximately 10 yards away. Officer Robinson was not with the grouped officers, and was instead looking at crash damage of one of the vehicles when the gunfire rang out. 

"I was behind cover [and] concealed by that vehicle being there. So I immediately pulled my pistol out and call over the radio 'shots fired'," said Officer Robinson.

Officer Robinson then returned fire with his pistol from approximately 70 feet away and struck Barakat's long rifle fitted with a scope and binary trigger, a system that allows for bullets to be fired on pull and release of the firing mechanism. Robinson's bullet strike disabled Barakat's long rifle and hit the suspect, forcing him to the ground as he began to reach for his own pistol. Robinson then covered the distance between them, firing shots at Barakat and telling him to put his hands up. Robinson then circled the vehicle so he was behind Barakat and neutralized him after the suspect did not surrender or drop his handgun. At this point during the incident, Barakat is not dead but in custody.

In total, the shooting took place over the course of two minutes. 

After the shooting stopped and Barakat was neutralized, Robinson, nearby firefighters who responded to the initial minor traffic incident, and other officers who responded to the shots fired incident attempted life-saving measures on Officers Dotas, Wallin, Hawes, and bystander Koswick. Dotas was taken to a nearby hospital first due to the severe extent of his injuries. 

"I did not think that Andrew was going to live at all, "said Officer Robinson, "I watched the color from his skin go away and I knew he was losing a ton of blood. I have seen people who have been shot before and they get taken to the hospital and they die, and he looked just like that."

After the injured were taken to local healthcare facilities, Robinson says he gave a statement to a commanding officer and was taken to the Police Department Headquarters, speaking with investigators until "about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m." 

Robinson was then placed on administrative leave as an investigation into his actions at the shooting were done. This is standard with all Officer Involved Shootings and Critical Incidents in Fargo and multiple surrounding departments. During this time, Robinson says he had a lot of time to be with his wife Ashley and two sons, Gavin and Riley. He also says he had a lot of time with his thoughts, including thinking if he had been with the group of three officers and struck by gunfire or if Barakat was able to escape the scene and likely commit more violence as described by North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley at the ongoing Downtown Street Fair or Red River Valley Fair.

"It still plays in my mind like a 1,000 times a day. It still doesn't seem real - like that it happened. The last two months have been like a whirlwind," said Officer Robinson.

The full interview with Robinson is available to view below.


The Police Department has already released a similarly recorded interview with Officer Andrew Dotas and his wife, Hannah Dotas. The Department says they are expecting to release a similar video with Officer Tyler Hawes in the future.