FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota police officer was near death Thursday after being hit by a gunshot while responding to a domestic disturbance, triggering an overnight standoff with the suspected shooter who was later found dead in his home.
Officer Jason Moszer, a six-year police veteran with a wife and two children, wasn’t expected to survive his injuries. Family members visited him in a hospital early Thursday to say goodbye, Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.
“We’re losing a brother, one of our fellow officers,” Todd said at an early-morning news conference during an 11-hour standoff that had police ordering people in the neighborhood not to leave their homes.
Police said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the suspect, Marcus Schumacher, killed himself or died from police gunfire.
The shooting shook Fargo, which is North Dakota’s largest city but rarely sees such violence. Police said an officer had not died in the line of duty in more than a century. The only other Fargo police officer killed in the line of duty was Frederick Alderman, 25, who was shot to death July 5, 1882, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a national nonprofit group that keeps records of fallen officers.
Schumacher, 49, was found dead shortly before dawn inside the home where he had barricaded himself, Todd said.
Schumacher appeared to have died from a gunshot wound but “we don’t know if that was from us engaging him or something self-inflicted,” Todd said. Todd said earlier that Schumacher had exchanged gunfire with a SWAT officer.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the suspect fired “a number of rounds” and that officers were going house to house in a six-block area “to find out where they all went.”
Todd said a squad car at the scene had been fired upon and that he believes the suspect was targeting law enforcement. Police said no one else in the neighborhood was hurt.
Moszer, 33, responded to a report of domestic violence at the home Wednesday evening and was struck by Schumacher’s gunfire, Fargo Deputy Police Chief Joe Anderson said.
A SWAT team in an armored vehicle retrieved Moszer and took him to a medical facility.
Anderson said authorities tried to communicate with Schumacher through negotiators, but that he didn’t respond and the SWAT team eventually entered the house and found the body.
The incident began in one of Fargo’s older residential neighborhoods near downtown around 7 p.m. after Schumacher’s son called dispatchers and said the suspect had fired a gun at his mother, the suspect’s wife. The caller and his mother were able to escape the home unharmed, Anderson said.
As law enforcement arrived, a standoff ensued, with the suspect firing multiple rounds from inside, Anderson said.
Sarah Stensland, 26, lives less than a block from the suspect’s home. She said she and her girlfriend locked the doors, turned off the lights and hunkered down in the basement for the night.
“We were scared. We could hear gunshots very clearly, even from the basement,” she said. “I felt like my nerves were on edge all night. I’m just exhausted.”
Students and staff at nearby Horace Mann Elementary School were shifted to another school Thursday so as not to impede the investigation, Fargo Public Schools said in a statement. The move was made at the request of the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is handling the case.