'He had no fear': Friends, brothers in arms remember officer killed in standoff
FARGO -- Jason Moszer died Thursday with a fixed place in the memories of his friends and fellow police officers who knew him as a cop who excelled at his job. An Army medic who stayed cool in battle. A father and husband who passed on motorcycle...
FARGO -- Jason Moszer died Thursday with a fixed place in the memories of his friends and fellow police officers who knew him as a cop who excelled at his job. An Army medic who stayed cool in battle. A father and husband who passed on motorcycle trips to spend time with his family. A funny, reliable pal who helped you on moving day and grilled jalapeno poppers at backyard parties.
Moszer, 33, was a six-year veteran of the Fargo Police Department. He is believed to have been fatally shot by a man in a standoff with officers on Wednesday night at a north Fargo home, police said. His funeral is expected to take place late next week.
"He was a guy who came to work with a smile on his face every day," Fargo Police Chief David Todd said. "He loved working out on the street with his fellow officers They loved working with him."
Moszer, who grew up in Fargo, began chasing his dream of being an officer while he was a student at Fargo South High School, said Chris Potter, a Cass County sheriff's deputy.
At South, Moszer joined the Explorer club, a group for students interested in law enforcement careers. Potter, one of the club's leaders, described Moszer as a scrawny teenager who became the backbone of the club.
"My memory of him was as a kind of quiet, reserved, shy kid, and it turned out that he was one of our longest-serving members," Potter said.
Late Wednesday night, Potter, like dozens of other officers, was called to help with the standoff. In time, he found out that an officer had been shot.
"It was just surreal. It was just devastating," Potter said. "When I learned it was Jason, that was just over the top."
Potter said he and other officers had to set aside their emotions as they worked through the night. "It was pretty solemn, but as a group we had to carry on with what was expected of us."
He said his feelings didn't catch up with him until he went home and put his squad car in park. "It was a hard walk from the squad into the house."
Moszer graduated from South High School in 2001. He went on to receive a criminal justice degree from North Dakota State University in 2009. The same year, he attended Lake Region Law Enforcement Academy in Devils Lake.
For eight years, Moszer served in the Minnesota National Guard. He was deployed to Bosnia from July 2003 to March 2004 and to Iraq from March 2006 to June 2007, said Maj. Scott Hawks, a Guard spokesman.
A soldier decorated with several service medals, Moszer left the Guard in 2007 with an honorable discharge, Hawks said.
Moszer's platoon sergeant, Kerry Buckle, remembered him as a combat medic who never complained about his assignments, who displayed courage in treating casualties after his unit came under attack in Iraq.
"He was one of the best soldiers I ever had," said Buckle, 52. "He had no fear."
Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey, who served with Moszer in Iraq, said Moszer's consistency and competency as a medic rippled through their unit.
"He was very calm under pressure, which is good for the job that he had," Housey said. "He had a finger on everybody's pulse based on how they were feeling and what they had to go through."
'Just a shame'
Moszer's cool demeanor came through on the street as an officer.
In 2011, he and Officer Matthew Siders found two children trapped and screaming inside a burning apartment bedroom. Risking their own lives, the two officers entered the room and saved the children from the fire, and then helped extinguish the blaze.
For their efforts, Siders and Moszer were awarded the department's Silver Star medal.
Pat Claus, a former deputy police chief, said Moszer was the kind of guy who always put others ahead of himself. Claus said he regrets not telling Moszer how proud of him he was.
"He was a natural cop, effortless," Claus said. "He had great people skills."
Reached by phone at his home, Claus said he was feeling "survivor's guilt" on Thursday after learning of Moszer's injuries.
"I was shot at. I did 25 years" on the force, "and here I am sitting in a nice warm living room," Claus said. "It's just a shame that he won't get to grow old like some of us and retire."
Thursday morning, police officials announced that Moszer was mortally wounded. "His family is with him, they're saying goodbye to him," said Todd, who asked news outlets to give privacy to Moszer's family.
Moszer's friend, Drew Schwan, said Moszer was a father to two school-age children, Jolee and Dylan. Moszer died Thursday afternoon at Sanford Medical Center, and his organs will be donated, Schwan said. "Just a couple more lives he's going to end up saving even after he's past," said Mike Lovejoy, a Fargo police detective.
For Lovejoy, the loss of Moszer meant the loss of a superbly dry sense of humor.
"Horribly sarcastic," Lovejoy said of Moszer. "We'd feed off each other."
A lover of riding motorcycles and shooting guns, Moszer was lighthearted, easy to talk with and enjoyed having people over to his house, his friends said. "He always made jalapeño poppers that were delicious," said Chris Horning, a friend from high school.
Dan Bair was one of many Fargo officers who went to the hospital to pay his respects to Moszer and his family.
"As a police officer, he was always great to work with. He always tried to maintain a positive attitude with the citizens. He always tried to help them out," Bair said. "He really cared about people."
Bair said Moszer's death has left Moszer's wife, Rachel, wondering what life will be like without the husband she could always count on.
"He was my rock," she told Bair. "What am I going to do without my rock?"
How to help
Accounts for Moszer's family have been created at GoFundMe.com, Crowdrise.com and Bell State Bank & Trust.