Fargo Police Officer Andrew Dotas leaves hospital

Fargo Police Officer Andrew Dotas was released from the hospital Saturday, three weeks after he was shot by a heavily-armed gunman who targeted officers who were responding to a routine traffic crash on July 14. The shooting killed Officer Jake Wallin and wounded Dotas, Officer Tyler Hawes, and a civilian.

Officer Hawes is continuing his recovery at Sanford Health is expected to be released in the future.

The Fargo Police Department released a roughly one-minute video Saturday night of Officer Dotas exiting the elevator and walking out the hospital to applause, down a hallway lined with hospital staff, members of the National Guard, Fargo Police, and community supporters.

Fargo Police Officer Andrew Dotas leaves the hospital on Saturday, Aug 5.

Fargo Police Officer Andrew Dotas leaves the hospital on Saturday, Aug 5. Credit: Fargo Police.

Fargo Police Chief Dave Zibolski said the shooting were a premeditated ambush without provocation. Mohamed Barakat was armed with about 1,800 rounds and a grenade on the day of the attack. He shot and seriously injured the three officers in what the chief believes may have only been the beginning of his plans.

At the memorial service for Officer Wallin, chief Zibolski read a message from Officer Dotas.

"I’m in a hospital bed right now, and I’m constantly reminded that our roles could’ve been reversed. It’s my duty to make sure that this sacrifice lives on," Zibolski read. "Jake, you’re a true hero. Rest easy brother, we got it from here."

The week after the shooting, North Dakota Attorney General laid out a detailed timeline Friday, walking media through exactly how the ambush happened and how it was planned.

Mohamed Barakat was a Syrian national who came to the U.S. on an asylum request in 2012.

The deceased suspect in the shooting of three Fargo Police officers may have been on his way to carry out a much larger attack.

"He had the intent he had the commitment he had the means," said Drew Wrigley, North Dakota Attorney General.

One week after the shooting, Wrigley released more information about the investigation into Barakat. 

When he came upon a fender bender that afternoon, Barakat was armed with multiple weapons, explosives and grenades and had spray painted the back windows of his car. 

"Based on the time and the direction he was going he was either likely to be taking a right when he got to main avenue going downtown and taking a left when he got to main avenue and going to the fairgrounds," Wrigley said.

Video footage reveals he came upon the crash, circling and casing the scene for about 15 minutes before parking his car and opening fire, killing Officer Wallin and critically injuring officers Dotas and Hawes, as well as civilian Karlee Koswick, who was involved in the initial car accident.

Barakat was eventually shot by officer Zach Robinson and later died at the hospital.

If it wasn't for Robinson’s actions, Wrigley says many more people may have died that day. 

"What he was standing between was not just the horrible events that were unfolding there, but the horrible events that Mohamed Barakat had planned, had envisioned and intended, and armed himself for beyond fully for," Wrigley said.

A forensic review of his computer revealed Barakat was searching terms like "explosive ammo," "kill fast" and "mass shooting events". 

His last search the night before was about the downtown Fargo street fair happening that weekend. 

"In the days leading up to there he's looking specifically to the region, he's looking for large crowd events in the region," Wrigley said.

A specific motive for the ambush hasn't been identified, but it's still a critical piece of the investigative puzzle, according to authorities.

"What could possibly motivate someone to ambush young officers in the line of duty? How could murderous chaos and this type of evil arise on a familiar street in Fargo, North Dakota?" Wrigley said.

Barakat was not on a terror watch list, but there was a guardian report made on him which Wrigley says is a way for the public to engage law enforcement, but it was not regarding any threats or violence. 

Body camera footage of the shooting does exist and will be released at some point.