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Minneapolis received few answers Friday to what set off a chaotic sequence of events Thursday in the Whittier neighborhood where gunfire claimed the lives of three people — including a police officer — and others were left seriously injured.

In a statement early Friday, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara offered sparse details about what led to the killings of officer Jamal Mitchell and civilian Osman Said Jimale, one of two victims shot in a Blaisdell Avenue apartment, which set off the police response.

"Jamal lived a life of purpose and make no mistake: Jamal made a difference in other people's lives," read a statement from O'Hara. "That's what cops do. I am angry and I am hurt by an attack on our officers, but this is a tragedy I was praying we would not have to face.

"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."

Mitchell, 36, was among the first officers to arrive near the scene of a double shooting in the apartment shortly after 5 p.m. He was attempting to give medical assistance down the street from the building to two people he believed had been wounded when one of them "ambushed" him, according to Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

That person, identified Saturday as 35-year-old Mustafa Ahmed Mohamed, was killed soon after in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Along with a preliminary account of the circumstances of the shooting that left three people dead and four wounded, police also updated the conditions of those who have so far survived. Two suffered life-threatening injuries and were in critical condition, a police spokesman said late Friday morning.

Police said no arrests have been made in connection with any of the gunfire, whether inside the apartment in the 2200 block of Blaisdell Avenue S. or on the street.

Late Friday afternoon, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office released the identity of Jimale, 32, of Minneapolis, who was shot multiple times, the Examiner's Office disclosed.

Meanwhile, the city grieved.

Memorials for the fallen

Outside the Fifth Precinct police station at Nicollet Avenue and E. 31st Street, a police vehicle adorned with flowers and a picture of Mitchell sat parked, serving as a public memorial. Those paying respects ranged from Mayor Jacob Frey to fellow officers or those who knew Mitchell only casually, such as Paul King, a Metro Transit bus driver who referred to Mitchell as "Mitch."

King said Mitchell struck up a conversation with him while he was driving the bus one day, and such interactions became a regular occurrence. "He'd roll up and say 'You OK?' " King said Friday. He said Mitchell impressed him — both by his physical presence and his warm demeanor — so much that he used to tell him that he was destined to be the next police chief. "This was a down-to-earth, good man," said King, who is 60 and Black. "He represent African-American men — and young men — and he loved his job. Said it was his dream job."

A memorial to Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell is posted near where he was killed on Blaisdell Avenue on Thursday night.
A memorial to Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell is posted near where he was killed on Blaisdell Avenue on Thursday night.

Dave Orrick

Along Blaisdell on Friday morning, tatters of police tape yielded to flowers placed at various spots along the two-block stretch where the violence happened: The initial double shooting was reported inside an apartment in the 2200 block; Mitchell and another man lost their lives on the block to the north.

A paper heart thumbtacked to a utility pole read: "Thank you for your service officer Mitchell. I'm so sorry."

Tenants of the building mingled outside, comparing accounts of a harrowing evening that featured a massive police presence, with officers questioning people from several buildings deep into the night. Several complained that police had kicked in their doors, and they hadn't been fixed.

"If you weren't home, your door got kicked in," said Ken Lorence, a resident of 13 years whose door was damaged "but not too bad." Some entire doorframes, he said, were destroyed. "There's a lot of doors kicked in."

Throughout the day, workers hauled in lumber to rebuild doorframes and the work appeared complete by late afternoon.

BCA investigators with clipboards walked from building to building while Alvin Green, who owns a security business and said he knows people on the street, placed flowers in a street sign in front of the apartment where the first reports of shooting originated. Green said he brought the flowers "out of the kindness of my heart for the officer who died and everyone else who was killed or wounded."

The shooting took place early Thursday evening on Blaisdell Avenue S. in Minneapolis.
The shooting took place early Thursday evening on Blaisdell Avenue S. in Minneapolis.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Two shootings

The BCA took over all communication on the investigation, but had not released any new information as of 5 p.m.

Based on several statements from law enforcement Thursday and Friday, police scanner audio, eyewitness accounts and cellphone video reviewed by the Star Tribune, a basic chronology has emerged.

About 5:15 p.m., police were alerted to two people shot in an apartment in the 2200 block of Blaisdell.

Mitchell arrived in the area and attempted to give medical aid to a man in the street he believed to be wounded. "While rendering aid to an injured male, the injured male pulled a gun and assassinated Officer Mitchell and continued to shoot him after he fell to the ground," O"Hara's account read.

A Friday evening release from the medical examiner's officer said Mitchell died of multiple gunshot wounds in the 2100 block of Blaisdell, about a block north of the apartment.

Additional officers arrived, opened fire and mortally wounded the suspect. Another officer was wounded, as was a Minneapolis firefighter and another man in a vehicle. The suspect "died at the scene despite lifesaving efforts," O'Hara's account continued.

The wounded officer was reported to be recovering at HCMC. His identity has yet to be released. Mitchell died at HCMC.

At the scene, officers went inside the apartment building and found one man dead and another suffering from life-threatening injuries. That victim was being treated at HCMC.

The man found shot in his vehicle also was taken to HCMC with life-threatening injuries. The firefighter was treated for injuries without being hospitalized.

The BCA and the Minneapolis Police Department are working together to investigate all aspects of the gunfire inside the apartment and on the street.

"Today the city of Minneapolis lost a courageous hero," Frey said Thursday night. "Officer Jamal Mitchell was a father, a son, a fiancé, and a beloved member of our Minneapolis Police Department. Today, he made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and save the lives of others. His life, his service and his name will forever be remembered in the city of Minneapolis."

The last Minneapolis police officer shot and killed in the line of duty was Melissa Schmidt, who was wounded in a public housing complex in the Lyndale neighborhood in 2002. Minneapolis Park Police officer Mark Bedard was killed In 2007 while responding to a drive-by shooting. He was chasing a suspect on foot when he was struck by a Minneapolis police squad car. He died a week later.

Back at the precinct Friday, Ben Deitner, a Cottage Grove police officer, placed a patch from Washington County SWAT under the wiper of the squad placed outside in Mitchell's memory.

"It's close to home," said Deitner, who's been on the force since 2019 and knows Minneapolis officers and has paid his respects to numerous fallen officers recently, including those in Burnsville, Wisconsin and greater Minnesota. "I've been to too many memorials recently."

Star Tribune staff writer Louis Krauss contributed to this story.