The Minneapolis police officer involved in the mysterious fatal shooting of bride-to-be and alternative healer Justine Damond outside her home in Minnesota late Saturday night has been identified as Mohamed Noor, a rookie police officer whose addition to the force last May was lauded by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges as "the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department."
"Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall. The community even hosted a meet and greet event (see pics) to welcome him. A wonderful sign of building trust and community policing at work. Welcome Officer Noor and all of the new officers in their new precinct assignments across the city," Hodges wrote in a Facebook post.
Shortly after a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Justine's death, however, Hodges said she was "heartsick."
"I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night," she said at a press conference.
"We have few facts at this point," she added. "I want to know more. I call on the BCA to share as much information with all of us as quickly as they can. I have questions about why the bodycams weren't on."
The BCA said just before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday the two Minneapolis police officers the Star Tribune has identified as Noor and Matthew Harrity, 25, responded to a 911 call about a possible assault in an alley about 100 feet from Justine's home.
"At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman," the release said without stating any details on why Damond was shot or even her identity. The Star Tribune identified Damond, 40, as the victim, and noted that she had recently moved from Sydney, Australia, to be with her fiancé, Don Damond, 50.
Noor's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said in a statement cited by the Tribune that he "takes these events very seriously."
"He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves," Plunkett said. "Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing."
Sources with knowledge of the shooting told the Tribune that the two officers arrived in a squad car, pulled into the alley and Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver's side door and was talking to the driver. Noor, who was in the passenger seat, then pulled his gun and shot Justine through the driver's side door. The sources further noted that no weapon was found at the scene. Her cellphone, however, was discovered near her body.
Damond's fiancé, Don Damond, who was away on a business trip when the shooting occurred, said Monday afternoon in his first public comments that his family needs to know what exactly happened.
"We lost the dearest of people and are desperate for information," he said. "Piecing together Justine's last moments before the homicide would provide small comfort as we grieve this tragedy."
Chief Janeé Harteau who was away on personal business at the time of the incident also said she wanted answers.
"I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death," Harteau said. "I also want to assure you that I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point. I've asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can."
Justine's family in Sydney, Australia, said they are trying to come to terms with her death.
"We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare, but we awoke to the ugly truth and it hurt even more," her father, John Ruszczyk, told reporters Tuesday. "Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death."