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State identifies officer, man in Austin, Minn. machete shooting – Twin Cities

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AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) — Authorities have released the names of an Austin police officer and the man he shot to death on Christmas Eve.

The Austin Daily Herald reported Tuesday that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the officer as Zachary Gast. He has worked for the Austin Police Department for two years and has been placed on leave.

The Southern Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office, meanwhile, identified the man Gast shot as 38-year-old Kokou Christopher Fiafonou of Austin.

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Police have said Fiafonou was walking in traffic with a machete and walking in traffic on Dec. 23. He retreated to an apartment and a 24-hour stand-off with officers ensued. Police fired pepper gas and foam rounds into the apartment to no avail.

Fiafonou finally left the apartment around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 24. Officers followed him to a Kwik Trip parking lot. Police said Fiafonou confronted the officers with a knife and Gast shot him multiple times.

Fiafonou was suffering from a mental disorder, according to a GoFundMe page for him.

The BCA is continuing to investigate the incident and will send its findings to the Mower County Attorney’s Office for review.



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