Skip to main content

BCA identifies victim, officer in fatal police shooting in Austin

The officer has been with the police department for two years.
Kokou Christopher Fiafonou

Kokou Christopher Fiafonou

Authorities have identified the police officer and man he fatally shot following a 24-hour standoff in Austin.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on Tuesday identified the Austin police officer as Zachary Gast, who has been with the department for two years. 

Gast fatally shot Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, 38, on Dec. 23, with the medical examiner saying he died of multiple gunshot wounds, the BCA said. 

Investigators found a knife near Fiafonou's body, the BCA said.

Austin police last week said Gast opened fire in the Kwik Trip gas station parking lot around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 following the end of a 24-hour standoff at a nearby apartment building that had started at 3:45 p.m. the day prior (Dec. 22).

Police responded to 7th Street Northwest and 8th Avenue Northwest Wednesday on a report of a man walking in traffic while holding a machete. Police said the man failed to respond to verbal commands and Tasers were "ineffective."

Fiafonou then went into an apartment building on the 1200 block of 4th Avenue Northwest, where he allegedly "threatened to hurt other people," police said. 

Negotiators spoke with Fiafonou for more than 24 hours during which police used "pepper gas and less-lethal foam," which were also "ineffective."

Fiafonou left the apartment around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 and walked to the nearby Kwik Trip. Police say in the parking lot of the gas station, the man "confronted officers," and Gast opened fire. 

Fiafonou died at the scene. A GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral expenses says he suffered from a mental disorder and was praying out loud when police started harassing him. 

The BCA is handling the investigation into Fiafonou's death. When the BCA finishes its investigation, it will send the case to the Mower County Attorney's Office, which will consider charges against the officer. 

Note: The details provided in this story are based on the police’s latest version of events, and may be subject to change.

Next Up

walz flanagan lorie shaull flickr

Gov. proposes 'Walz Checks' for most Minnesotans

The governor wants to use $700 million of the state's surplus to fund the payments.

Hutch crash booking photo

Walz, Flanagan call on Hennepin Co. sheriff to resign

"I would say that it is time for him to resign," the Lt. Gov. said.

line 3 enbridge portage lake hubbard county mn tony webster flickr

Months after missing deadline, Enbridge says Line 3 aquifer breach is fixed

The company told Bring Me The News it "successfully stopped the flow of groundwater" at the site.

canada bodies found

Baby, teenager among 4 found dead along MN, Canada border

Authorities believe all four froze to death.

unsplash roller rink skates CROP

Former roller rink, tennis courts will become new sports hub

The Wooddale Fun Zone has been closed since spring of 2020.

hibachi daruma

Popular hibachi food truck opens second Twin Cities restaurant

The much-anticipated Daruma opens for takeout Thursday evening.

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

Kris Ehresmann

One of Minnesota's key COVID-19 leaders is retiring

Kris Ehresmann has given more than 30 years of her life to public health in Minnesota.

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

snow

3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Related

Burnsville police shooting

BCA identifies 4 police officers involved in fatal shooting in Burnsville

Two officers fired handguns and two others shot rifles.

Screen Shot 2021-12-24 at 7.31.42 PM

Police shoot man dead following 24-hour standoff in Austin

Police say negotiations continued for more than a day.

Screen Shot 2020-12-31 at 3.58.03 PM

3 Minneapolis officers involved in fatal shooting of Dolal Idd are identified

The BCA says the three officers fired their guns at Idd after he struck several police cars with his vehicle and then fired at officers.

Victim, officer identified in fatal Lake Elmo shooting

Benjamin Evans, 23, died in the shooting.

dolal idd

Minneapolis officers won't be charged in fatal shooting of Dolal Idd

Three officers fired their weapons at Idd outside a gas station on Dec. 30, 2020.

Officers and suspects shoot at each other during morning traffic stop, BCA says

The suspects fired first, and police fired back, the BCA says.