A 36-year-old Minneapolis police officer is dead, as are another person and the suspected shooter, after an exchange of gunfire Thursday evening in south Minneapolis, according to statements from police and public officials.

A second police officer, a firefighter, a bystander and another person also were wounded in the chaotic scene that unfolded in and around an apartment building in the 2200 block of Blaisdell Avenue, in Minneapolis' Whittier neighborhood, officials said.

The deceased Fifth Precinct officer was identified as Jamal Mitchell, 36, who received a commendation for rescuing people from a fire three days after he started.

Mitchell "is a courageous hero, and today is a devastating day for the city of Minneapolis," said Mayor Jacob Frey at a 10 p.m. news conference, flanked by Gov. Tim Walz, police leaders and City Council members.

Mitchell, a father and fiancé, was among the first officers who arrived at the scene of a double shooting shortly after 5 p.m. He was attempting to give medical assistance outside 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.

"I'm using the term for a reason," Evans said. "I've seen the video, and [Mitchell] was ambushed," though he didn't explain exactly what transpired.

Around 9 p.m., several hundred officers from Minneapolis and law enforcement departments across the metro area gathered outside HCMC in downtown Minneapolis, where Mitchell was taken. They stood vigil, saluting his flag-draped casket as it was loaded into the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's van.

Doctors and nurses, many dressed in scrubs, watched from the hospital skyway above. Fifth Precinct Inspector Christie Nelson wiped her eyes. Police then headed for their squad cars to form a procession to the medical examiner's office in Minnetonka.

The area of the shooting remained cordoned off as the sun set amid an army of police, investigators and first responders from numerous agencies.

"The public is not in danger," the police statement said. "Please continue to avoid the area."

Amanda Anderson
Video (16:14) Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and law enforcement gave a press conference following the fatal shooting of Police Officer Jamal Mitchell.

Details were still emerging Thursday evening in what became the first shooting death of a Minneapolis police officer in the line of duty in more than 20 years. Walz said State Patrol troopers were assisting Minneapolis police, and officials with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were also on the scene.

One uniformed officer was face down on the street among squad cars and fire trucks as at least 11 shots rang out, according to a man who witnessed part of the incident and showed his cellphone video to a reporter.

By the time the gunfire ended, a figure in plainclothes could be seen face down on the street as well.

Outpouring at HCMC

Upon hearing that officers were down, dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers rushed to HCMC in downtown Minneapolis, where they wept and comforted each other in an ambulance bay. Among them were Assistant Chief Katie Blackwell and Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt.

Chief Brian O'Hara was out of town for a conference but was said to be headed back to Minneapolis.

The hospital entrance on 7th Street was lined with squad cars and covered with yellow crime scene tape as a parade of squad cars from departments across the metro rolled in, with Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto directing traffic.

A woman stood at the intersection outside the hospital holding a giant "Blue Lives Matter" flag, wiping tears from her eyes.

Frey arrived on the scene as well, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with officers.

Members of the officers' families also arrived at HCMC, walking through a line of more than a hundred uniformed officers standing at attention in the ambulance bay. They were escorted inside by members of the department's honor guard.

Shooting scene

The shooting appears to have begun inside an apartment, according to one witness and police.

Reuben Molina said he was in his apartment when he heard four or five shots from an apartment on the floor below him. He and his girlfriend heard a woman tell a 911 dispatcher that two people had been shot in the head, including her boyfriend.

Molina saw two men walk out the back door of the complex and split up in the alleyway, going in opposite directions. They looked, he said, like they were "trying to be nonchalant."

Molina went outside to get officers to check on the apartment shooting when he began hearing more shots nearby, he said.

"I could hear the bullets ricocheting and bouncing off stuff as I'm trying to get somebody to come inside to check on the people who were shot," he said. He saw one wounded person being carried away.

Cory Jones, 36, was biking south on La Salle Avenue toward Franklin Avenue at about 5:23 p.m. when he heard the gunshots.

"I heard boom-boom-boom, and then I see a cop on the street," he said.

Jones dashed to the parking lot across from the Park Nicollet Clinic on Blaisdell Avenue, pulled out his phone and began recording. Several police officers huddled behind a fire truck parked on Blaisdell facing south.

As Jones approached the group, he saw an officer face down on the west side of the street and a man in plain clothes laying on the east side as pops of gunfire erupted around him — at least 11 shots, according to the audio and video captured on his phone.

What happened

The rapidly evolving series of events created a confusing narrative that included a misstatement by police, who suggested at one point Thursday evening that four people were dead. It turned out to be three.

The violence played out like this, according to Evans, Blackwell and a police statement issued after midnight:

It started with a report of two men shot inside the apartment around 5:15 p.m. — the incident that Mitchell responded to.

Outside the apartment and down the street, Mitchell saw two people he believed were wounded in the shooting and began to provide medical assistance.

One of those people shot Mitchell — what Evans described as an "ambush," though the details remain murky. The shooter was identified Saturday as 35-year-old Mustafa Ahmed Mohamed, whose last known address was St. Cloud.

At least one other Minneapolis police officer arriving at the scene exchanged gunfire with Mohamed, and an officer was wounded with non-life-threatening injuries. Mohamed was fatally wounded.

In addition, a civilian — whom Evans described as "an innocent bystander, we believe"— was wounded. A firefighter was also wounded with non life-threatening injuries.

Inside the apartment building, officers found two men who had been shot. One was dead and the other was "gravely" injured, Evans said.

As of late Thursday, three people were dead: Mitchell, the suspected shooter, and one of the people found in the apartment. Four people were wounded but alive: the second officer, the firefighter, the bystander, and the other person found inside the apartment.

Residents kept out

Minneapolis police sent out an alert just before 6 p.m. telling residents to avoid the area around 22nd Street and Blaisdell because of an active incident. About 40 people gathered nearby as numerous police cars from several agencies arrived. Police yelled to observers to move back down the block and taped off the area, allowing only buses to go through.

Several people who live in the apartment building where the shooting took place were still waiting at 8 p.m. to get word they could go back inside. One woman told police to check on her children who were still inside her apartment.

About a dozen apartment residents began arguing with two officers who told them that police were going unit to unit, kicking doors in to check for additional victims. Several said they were annoyed that police told them they would have to find somewhere else to stay for the next few hours.

Commuters and nearby residents were blocked in their vehicles as officers with assault weapons told them to get down and keep their doors locked.

"I thought it was fireworks first," said one man, who left to walk his dog moments before gunfire began at his apartment building. The man, who declined to give his full name, said he had recently moved there and wasn't sure when he would be able to go home.

The shooting Thursday was the second this year to result in the death of a Twin Cities police officer. In February, two police officers and a medic were shot and killed in Burnsville after an hours-long standoff following a domestic abuse call. A man who had barricaded himself in his home with a woman and seven children shot and killed the officers and medic, and died after turning his weapon on himself.

The last Minneapolis police officer shot and killed in the line of duty was Melissa Schmidt, who was killed 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.

Staff writers Josie Albertson-Grove, Eder Campuzano, Kim Hyatt, Zoë Jackson and Paul Walsh contributed to this story.

Correction: Previous versions of this story gave an incorrect age for Officer Jamal Mitchell.