A Fargo police officer shot while responding to a domestic dispute died Thursday, becoming the city’s first police officer to be killed on duty in 134 years, authorities said.
Jason Moszer, 33, a six-year veteran of the Fargo Police Department, was shot Wednesday night at the beginning of a standoff at a home in north Fargo that lasted until early the next morning, when police found the gunman dead in the house.
Moszer died from a single gunshot wound about 12:45 p.m. Thursday, after his family, which includes his wife and two children had gathered at a hospital to say “goodbye to him,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.
“A chunk of our souls was taken today,” an emotional Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said at a late morning news conference.
When the all-night standoff ended about 6:15 a.m. Thursday, officers found the man believed to have shot Moszer, Marcus C. Schumacher, 49, dead in his home.
Todd said he did not know whether Schumacher — who exchanged gunfire with a SWAT officer after Moszer was wounded — was killed “from us engaging him or [from] something self-inflicted.”
Schumacher has a criminal history that includes a conviction for negligent homicide for the October 1988 shooting of a 17-year-old boy, Maynard Clauthier. Schumacher was sentenced in 1991 to five years in prison, court records show.
Fargo police were first alerted to trouble about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday when Schumacher’s son called 911 to report that his father had shot at his mother. The son and his mother fled unharmed, police said.
Moszer was among the officers who initially responded to the scene, near downtown.
Moszer “was out on the perimeter when we first arrived and were awaiting SWAT [personnel],” Todd said in a news briefing shortly after daybreak. “The suspect started firing out of the house, and Officer Moszer was hit.”
Todd said he was confident that Schumacher meant to shoot at officers.
“I doubt it was random,” said the chief, somber with a strip of black tape around the badge on his chest, symbol of a fallen colleague. “There was a squad car that was shot up [earlier] in a different location than where Officer Moszer was hit.”
After an armored police vehicle was used to remove the wounded Moszer from the shooting scene, police tried to communicate with Schumacher over the next several hours.
Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said police suspect that Schumacher was armed with “multiple long guns” and was in the house by himself when he died.
Schumacher has lived in various North Dakota cities for nearly all of his adult life and possibly longer, according to court records.
He was 22 when he was charged in Grand Forks County with murder and attempted murder of Clauthier and the wounding of a 21-year-old man, Bradley Boswell. He pleaded guilty to lesser felony counts, then withdrew the pleas, records show. He was eventually acquitted of all charges in connection with Boswell’s wounding.
More recently, he was convicted about three years ago for disorderly conduct and assault.
In 2004, Schumacher and his wife filed for personal bankruptcy, listing more than $470,000 in debts and less than $75,000 in assets.
‘We were scared’
Soon after Moszer’s fate was revealed early Thursday, his wife’s Facebook page was dominated by an image of the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. Condolences from friends and loved ones flowed to Rachel Moszer, who married Jason in June 2013.
In a statement, Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said, “A tragedy affecting our men and women in uniform impacts our entire community. Today reminds us of the risks encountered daily by those proudly serving in uniform.”
Sarah Stensland, 26, who lives less than a block from the house where the shooting and standoff took place, said she and her girlfriend locked the doors to her house, 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,” Stensland said.
“I’m glad there were so many people willing to put their lives on the line to protect us,” she added. “It’s just unfortunate that one had to get hurt.”
“People are hunting us,” Sheriff Laney said at his morning news conference, referring to a number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty around the country in recent days. “And how do you think that sits with us?”
Moszer graduated from Fargo South High School in 2001 and from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 2009. In 2012, he and partner Matthew Siders were awarded the department’s Silver Star Medal for saving two children trapped inside a bedroom in a burning apartment. They then helped put out the blaze. The medal is given to recognize “an act of bravery or heroism.”
The first Fargo officer to die in the line of duty was 25-year-old Frederick Alderman, who was accidentally shot in 1882.
“We wear this badge with honor and pride, and we’re going to go out every day to protect our communities,” Laney said. “We lost a brother last night. We’re going to wake up today and go out and do it again. We’re not going to quit. We’re not going to back off.”