Minneapolis police chief shares anger with fellow officers over ambush death of one of their own

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis’ police chief told grieving officers early Friday that he was angered and hurt by the ambush death of one of their own as the city and state mourned the loss.

Chief Brian O’Hara joined other officers outside the station where Officer Jamal Mitchell worked before he was fatally shot Thursday while responding to a double shooting at an apartment building. Mitchell, 36, stopped to aid to a man who appeared to be an injured victim. That man instead shot the officer, authorities said.

“I am angry and deeply hurt by such a senseless and violent attack on Minneapolis’ Finest,” O’Hara said, according to a text released by the department. He went on to say, “As police officers, we know dying in the line of duty is always a possibility but the harsh reality hurts very deeply when it happens.”

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Mitchell was killed during a chaotic situation involving two crime scenes two blocks apart that left three civilians dead, including the gunman, two others hospitalized in critical condition, and another officer and a firefighter with less serious injuries. Video clearly shows that Mitchell was ambushed, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said at a news conference Thursday night.

O’Hara said the gunman “assassinated” Mitchell while the officer was attempting to help him, and continued to shoot him after he fell to the ground. Mitchell died at a hospital.

Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags flown at half-staff across Minnesota starting at sunrise Friday, calling Mitchell “a dedicated public servant and hero” who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Our first responders are first to step in during crisis,” the governor said in a statement early Friday. “We must never take their commitment for granted, and we must ensure they can answer their call of duty without fearing for their own lives.”

At the news conference Thursday night, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said authorities were still investigating and asked people to “be patient with us as we do not know all of the facts yet. We want to make sure that the investigation is completed and we’re doing it the right way.”

Law enforcement officials there provided a brief narrative of what transpired. When Mitchell was about two blocks from the complex, he got out of his car to provide aid to a man appearing injured who then shot him. Another officer arrived and exchanged gunfire with the shooter, who died at the scene despite attempts by officers to save him, Assistant Police Chief Katie Blackwell said. That officer suffered wounds that were not life-threatening.

Evans said another person, believed to be an innocent bystander, was shot and taken to a hospital in critical condition. A firefighter also was shot and injured. Other officers who went to the apartment found two people inside who had been shot. Police said they may have been residents there. One was dead and the other was hospitalized in critical condition, Evans said. He said the people in the apartment “had some level of acquaintance with each other.”

The shooting came three months after two officers and a firefighter-paramedic in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville were killed while responding to a domestic violence call. In that case, a man began shooting from a home while seven children were inside. A third officer was wounded before the man killed himself.

Mitchell, a father who was engaged to be married, had been with the department for less than 18 months. The Minneapolis Police Department honored Mitchell and another officer last year for rescuing an elderly couple from a house fire.

Speaking early Friday, O’Hara recalled both swearing Mitchell in in October 2022 and commending him last year for the rescue.

“Jamal died a hero, and like police officers in Minneapolis standing behind me here and everywhere, he was one of the few who have the courage to stand up and answer the call every single day,” the chief said.

Associated Press reporter Mark Thiessen contributed to this story from Anchorage, Alaska.

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