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Fargo Officer Who Stopped Shooter ‘Saved Countless Lives,’ US Attorney General Says

 The actions of a Fargo officer who fatally shot a gunman who opened fire on police last month “saved countless lives,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said as he visited the city.

The head of the U.S. Justice Department said he came to Fargo on Monday, Aug. 21, to meet with local, state and federal law enforcement leaders to discuss what agencies “need in order to get our common mission accomplished.” The meeting was held behind closed doors at the downtown federal courthouse, but not before Garland gave remarks to the media about his visit.

“We are here gathered in the wake of last month’s horrific ambush on four Fargo Police Department officers that resulted in the death of Officer Jake Wallin and serious injuries to two other officers, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes,” Garland said.

Wallin, Dotas, Hawes and Officer Zach Robinson were responding to a routine crash the afternoon of July 14 at Ninth Avenue and 25th Street South in Fargo when 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat, of Fargo, unloaded what North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley called a “barrage of the functional equivalent of automatic fire.”

Robinson ended the assault when he killed the shooter.

The shooting also injured Karlee Koswick , a Boston-area woman who recently moved to Fargo. She, Dotas and Hawes have been released from the hospital.

Authorities believe Barakat, who moved from Syria to the U.S. in 2012 seeking asylum, planned a mass shooting in Fargo, likely at a d owntown street fair attended by thousands the day of the shooting. Robinson’s “actions that day saved countless lives,” Garland said, adding he had a chance to meet the officer before the meeting.

“I told him that the courage he exhibited under fire was nothing short of amazing,” Garland said. “As everyone knows here, he saved the community from what could have been a catastrophic result.”

Garland also met with Wallin’s fiancee, Winter Malone, to offer his condolences on behalf of the Justice Department. The attorney general called Wallin an “honorable person in everything he did,” and said there were no words to express the sorrow and pain caused by Wallin’s killing.

“He was dedicated and a courageous public servant,” Garland said.

This is the second time in five years a U.S. attorney general has visited North Dakota. Jeff Sessions came to Fargo in 2018 to announce indictments in an international fentanyl investigation that caused several overdoses, including a fatal one in Grand Forks.

Garland acknowledged the work the U.S. attorney’s office has done prosecuting drug trafficking, violent crime and human smuggling organizations, as well as protecting the civil rights of those with disabilities.

He said the Justice Department will provide resources to support officers, build trust between law enforcement and their communities, and offer incentives to address recruitment and retention challenges.

“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to provide our law enforcement partners with the support they need and deserve,” Garland said.

Several demonstrators held signs outside the courthouse, calling for the federal government to fully implement Savanna’s Act and free Leonard Peltier. The act was named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was killed in 2017 at a Fargo apartment after her baby was cut from her womb.

Congress passed Savanna’s Act in 2020 as a way to address challenges in seeking justice for missing and murdered Native Americans. Advocates say the act, which required the U.S. to develop a database, guidelines and protocols to identify and help Native Americans who go missing or are killed, has not been fully implemented across the country.

Peltier is a Native American activist who is serving a life sentence in federal prison. He was convicted by an all-white jury in Fargo for the death of two FBI agents in 1975 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Some have alleged Peltier was the victim of trial misconduct. The United Nations Human Rights Council called for his release, saying his rights were violated and he was targeted for his political activism in supporting Native Americans.

“We want justice for everybody,” said Ruth Buffalo, an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation who attended the demonstration.

Source : GF



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