Minneapolis officer killed in ambush joined law enforcement to ‘save lives’

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On Jamal Mitchell’s third day on patrol as a Minneapolis police officer, he and another officer ran into a burning house and rescued an elderly couple.

“He was a hero,” Assistant Chief Katie Blackwell said Thursday night. “I’ve never met an officer that received an award on the third day on the job during his” field training.

Mitchell, 36, was killed in the line of duty Thursday afternoon in gunfire that resulted in the deaths of two other people and the wounding of four more.

“Like everyone, every police officer has a story; every officer has hopes and dreams,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said in a statement early Friday. “Sadly, Officer Jamal Mitchell’s hopes and dreams ended with his life on Thursday.”

Mitchell responded to a report of a double shooting in an apartment building in the Whittier neighborhood. “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 said.

Mitchell was a father and was engaged to be married. O’Hara asked people to keep Mitchell’s loved ones and friends in their prayers.

“I knew Jamal,” O’Hara said. “I had the distinct honor of swearing in Jamal as a Minneapolis police officer. Shortly after hitting the street, I commended and honored him for running into a burning house in the 5th Precinct to rescue an elderly couple. He loved the job, he loved the MPD, and he was faithful to the oath he swore.”

After the fire rescue in February 2023, Mitchell told KARE 11: “We’re not trained to run into fires, but being in the field of policing, it’s a potential. We’re here to serve our community and we’re often first on scene.”

Mitchell previously worked for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police Department, according to a proclamation from Gov. Tim Walz ordering flags to fly at half-staff at all state buildings on Friday.

After the fire rescue, Mitchell told Fox 9 he got into law enforcement “to do what I can to save lives, serve the community.” And that’s what authorities says Mitchell was doing Thursday.

Investigators are determining the circumstances of what happened, but the head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Thursday night that he’d seen video and Mitchell “was ambushed.”

After Mitchell was shot, responding officers exchanged gunfire with the gunman, according to O’Hara. Another Minneapolis officer who was shot has been treated and released from the hospital. A firefighter was also wounded in the shooting. The suspect died at the scene.

Another person, believed to be a bystander, was shot and was in critical condition as of Thursday night.

The location where Mitchell was attacked was about a block and a half from the original call.

Police found two adult male victims with gunshot wounds at an apartment, according to BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. One was pronounced dead and the second, who was gravely injured, was taken to the hospital.

“We believe this is isolated to the two different locations,” Evans said Thursday night. “… We believe that the individuals in the apartment had some level of acquaintance with each other.”

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