Fargo, ND Gunman’s 2022 Police Interview: Guns, Ammo, and Propane Tanks Discussed

The individual responsible for the fatal shooting of a Fargo, ND police officer and the injury of two other officers and a civilian last month had acknowledged possessing nearly a dozen firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition during a police interview conducted in 2022. This interview followed a residential kitchen fire at the assailant’s residence, which prompted firefighters to alert the police about the presence of firearms, ammunition, and propane tanks in the apartment of Mohamad Barakat.

According to an official report shared with the Associated Press by the Fargo Fire Department, Battalion Chief Jason Ness documented his observations during the September 6, 2022 fire incident. Ness noted the discovery of a substantial quantity of ammunition, multiple “assault-style” rifles, a 20-pound propane cylinder situated in a bedroom, a smaller propane cylinder in the kitchen, and various items seemingly intended for measurement purposes.

While the Fargo Police Department (FPD) confirmed the legality of Barakat’s gun collection, Ness made the decision to involve the police due to the presence of guns, high-capacity magazines, and propane tanks without any apparent cooking or grilling purpose. In his admission during the interview, Barakat revealed ownership of around 10 guns and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

Katie Ettish, a spokesperson for the city of Fargo, affirmed that the police officers who responded to the fire call had observed several firearms within Barakat’s apartment, all of which were legal and not subject to any prohibitions. Barakat’s ownership or acquisition of guns was within the bounds of the law.

Although Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski stated that there had been prior interactions with Barakat, he emphasized that these encounters had not raised any significant concerns.

The tragic incident unfolded on July 14, 2023 when 37-year-old Barakat shot and killed Fargo Police Officer Jake Wallin, while also injuring officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes, as well as a bystander, during their response to a routine traffic crash. The situation was contained by Officer Zach Robinson, who fatally shot Barakat, preventing a potentially more extensive attack considering ongoing summer festivities in the vicinity.

In the aftermath of the shooting, a search of Barakat’s vehicle revealed an array of weapons, including guns, a homemade grenade, over 1,800 rounds of ammunition, containers filled with gasoline, and two propane tanks. The tanks contained homemade explosive materials. Notably, Barakat’s online activity over the past five years raised concerns, with searches related to “kill fast,” “explosive ammo,” “incendiary rounds,” and “mass shooting events.” One search inquired about “area events where there are crowds,” which led to a news article titled, “Thousands Enjoy the First Day of Downtown Fargo Street Fair,” just a day before the shooting.

This wasn’t the first instance where authorities engaged Barakat regarding his firearms. In July 2021, the FBI received an anonymous tip expressing worries about Barakat’s mental state, his access to a substantial number of firearms, and his use of threatening language. Fargo police detectives visited Barakat, who denied any malicious intent. Given the absence of illegal activities or immediate threats, no further actions were taken at that time. The FBI’s ongoing investigation continues to delve into the circumstances surrounding last month’s shooting.

According to North Dakota Attorney General, Drew Wrigley, it seems that Barakat had lawfully acquired his firearms. Barakat, a Syrian national who arrived in the U.S. on an asylum request in 2012, attained U.S. citizenship in 2019.

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