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A close friend and next-door neighbor of Jamal Mitchell remembers how excited he was less than two years ago to join the Minneapolis police force, and how that feeling stayed with him to the end.

"He was so proud to serve Minneapolis," said Allison Seed, whose family has lived next door to Mitchell since they both moved from the East Coast to Maple Grove about the same time six years ago.

"I told him, 'You're one of the good guys, Jamal.' They really needed him."

Seed and others in what she described as an "incredibly supportive neighborhood" are meeting soon to figure out how to support Mitchell's family after he was shot to death while rendering aid to an injured man, in response to a report of a double shooting in the Whittier neighborhood.

Mitchell was "assassinated" by the suspect, who "continued to shoot him after he fell to the ground," Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said Friday. Mitchell died a short time later at HCMC, making him the department's first officer killed in 22 years.

The suspect, identified Saturday as 35-year-old Mustafa Ahmed Mohamed, also died, as did another civilian.

Mitchell's fiancée, Tori Myslajek, is an anesthesiologist in St. Cloud whose work at times required overnight absences from home, Seed said. That left Mitchell with double-parenting duty for three children of grade school age and younger. Myslajek's son moved out for college and is a sophomore now, Seed said.

Seed, her husband and daughter bonded quickly with Mitchell and Myslajek as East Coast transplants. The Seeds moved from Rhode Island, while Mitchell and Myslajek came from Connecticut for her career advancement.

"We had some fun nights out going to movies and dinner," Seed said. "We had my daughter's eighth-grade graduation party at their home."

From left: Jamal Mitchell, Tori Myslajek, Allison Seed and Adam Seed
From left: Jamal Mitchell, Tori Myslajek, Allison Seed and Adam Seed

Provided by Allison Seed

Seed said she cannot recall Mitchell "without a smile on his face. He was always looking for a way to have a conversation."

"He absolutely adored his family," she said. "He was there for them all the time."

One of the Seeds' three children, 18-year-old Avery, was Mitchell and Myslajek's go-to babysitter. She remembered how "we would talk a bunch; how school was and stuff like that. He was always so interested in my life."

On the lighter side, she said, Mitchell "would get super excited about movies. He just loved Marvel movies."

As her emotions started to stifle her words, Avery said: "He was just a pure person who cared about everybody he talked to. That happiness, you could really feel that in the core of him. It was just radiating."

Back in New Haven, Conn., Mitchell worked in real estate with Pearce Realty Group.

Announcement of his hiring by Pearce in 2017 noted that he was a lifelong resident of New Haven, where he was involved in community sports and organizations such as the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, the Boy Scouts of America, Guilford Basketball League and the Jewish Community Center Basketball League.

A hero, a friend

It was only his third day on the job last year when Mitchell found himself watching from the back of an ambulance as his partner Zachery Randall was checked out by medics.

Moments before a picture of Mitchell and Randall was snapped in February 2023, the officers had run into a burning house in southwest Minneapolis' Fifth Precinct to save an elderly couple. A plume of black smoke billowed from where the structure once stood.

O'Hara, who now finds himself mourning Mitchell's fatal shooting, had praised the rookie cop and his partner for their heroics.

Mitchell would go on to receive a lifesaving award. He would later say in an interview on CNN's "Beyond the Call of Duty" that, even as a rookie, acting on his instinct was without question.

"That's part of the job," he said. "We're here to protect the community, do what we can to serve the community. … We are trained to put others' lives in front of ours."

Hundreds of officers gathered outside the hospital in silent salute late Thursday as Mitchell's casket was wheeled into the back of a Hennepin County van. Their squad cars, lights flashing, made a lengthy late-night procession on Interstate 394 to the Medical Examiner's Office in Minnetonka.

By Friday morning, Gov. Tim Walz had ordered flags at half-staff in honor of Mitchell, 36, "a father, son, fiancé, friend" who joined the department in 2022.

"I knew Jamal. I had the distinct honor of swearing in Jamal as a Minneapolis police officer," O'Hara said in a statement released overnight. "He loved the job, he loved the MPD, and he was faithful to the oath he swore unto his death.

"Jamal was engaged to be married. 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. He died doing what we asked him to do for the rest of us."

Beyond his bravery, Mitchell was known for a friendly demeanor on the street, engaging with residents and earning their trust.

"Jamal waved at literally every single person while driving in the squad car," said officer Ashley Bergersen, who served as Mitchell's field training officer last year. "He was such a nice guy."

Bergersen shared with the Star Tribune a photo she snapped with Mitchell last year. He had just finished his field training, and they celebrated with some barbecue in Hanover. Both stood in uniform before a giant smoker, their smiles broad.

Minneapolis police officers Ashley Bergersen and Jamal Mitchell celebrate his last day of field training at Big Bore BBQ in Hanover, Minn.
Minneapolis police officers Ashley Bergersen and Jamal Mitchell celebrate his last day of field training at Big Bore BBQ in Hanover, Minn.

Ashley Bergersen

Star Tribune staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this story.