Fargo officer’s death ‘rocks’ hometown community in St. Michael, Minnesota

St. Michael Mayor Keith Wettschrek on Sunday said he was “shocked” to learn of the death of Fargo Officer Jake Wallin, who was shot and killed while responding to a traffic crash near the Minnesota border in North Dakota on Friday.

The mayor didn’t know Wallin personally, he said. Regardless, as a fellow veteran and father to grown children around the same age, he said he and the community in Wallin’s hometown of St. Michael are grieving with and for his family.

“He was out being an outstanding ambassador of the city, if you will, being from here, and it’s tough,” Wettschrek said. “These things are tough to take.”

When 23-year-old Wallin was in school in St. Michael, so were Wettschrek’s kids, he said, adding, “I don’t know what I would do if something like this happened to one of them.”

“It was such a senseless act of taking someone’s life. It wasn’t even an accident. That would have been horrible in and of itself, but to take someone’s life like that, it’s just horrible.”

Wallin was one of several first responders on the scene of a traffic crash in Fargo on Friday when police say “for no known reason at all” a gunman — 37-year-old Mohamad Barakat — opened fire, hitting three officers. Officers Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes were hurt and Wallin was killed before a fourth officer shot and killed Barakat.

RELATED STORY: Fargo police don’t yet have a motive for the shooting that killed 1 officer and injured 2

“When an officer dies in the line of duty in a community, any community, big community, small community, I believe it really rocks a community to its core,” Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association President Brian Hubbard said in an interview on Saturday.

According to his own words, in a tribute video created by Fargo Police — which includes an interview with Wallin, public service was an intentional career path for him, and he had just begun his job at the Fargo Police Department this year.

He was also known as Sgt. Wallin of the Minnesota Army National Guard, serving since 2017.

“He lived a life of service- not only to his state and nation but his community,” said National Guard Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Saturday.

“There’s a spot in my heart for our military men and women,” Wettschrek, a Navy veteran, added.

“We’re very proud of Jake,” the mayor said when asked if he had a message for Wallin’s family. “Overall a very exemplary young man, and we’re grieving with them. And, you know, we’ll get through this, but it’s tough.”

A 25-year-old woman was also hurt during the shooting. Police haven’t said who shot her.

Officer Hawes is a graduate of Eagan High School and played on the school’s varsity baseball squad, the team shared Sunday.