FBI investigating St. Cloud, Minnesota mall stabbing as possible terrorism
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KMSP) - The FBI is investigating the stabbing of 9 people at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota over the weekend as a possible act of terrorism.
At about 8:15 p.m. Saturday, a man wearing a private security uniform and wielding a knife walked into the Crossroads Center mall near Sears and started stabbing people, according to St. Cloud police. The man wounded 10 shoppers before he was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in the Macy's.
St. Cloud police officially identified the suspect as 20-year-old Dahir Ahmed Adan of St. Cloud.
Off-duty officer a 'hero'
The off-duty police officer has been identified as Officer Jason Falconer, a part-time officer with the Avon Police Department. He is the former Chief of Police from Albany. At a press conference on Sunday, St. Cloud Mayor David Kleis called Falconer a hero, saying he put his own life at risk to prevent anyone else from getting injured.
Monday morning, Avon Police Chief Corey Nellis said there is no officer he would trust more in that situation than Officer Falconer.
"I believe there was divine intervention. I believe he was the person that needed to be there to prevent it from being worse than it was," Chief Nellis said. "If I was going to ask anyone to fire live rounds in a crowded mall, I would trust his abilities over anybody's."
The Crossroads Center mall reopened Monday after city leaders held a meeting with employees.
FBI investigating possible act of terrorism
Based on witness accounts, Adan allegedly made a reference to Allah and asked at least one of the victims if they were Muslim before he assaulted them.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported an Islamic State-run news agency called Rasad claimed the suspect was a "soldier of the Islamic State." The news agency said the attacked had heeded calls from the extremist group for attacks in country that are part of a U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition. It is not clear if the extremist group had planned the attack or even knew about it beforehand.
The FBI confirmed Sunday they are investigating the stabbing as a possible act of terrorism, but have released no additional information on the investigation.
"We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with or was inspired by a foreign terrorist organization," FBI special agent Rick Thorton said at a press conference on Sunday.
No connection to New York, New Jersey bombings
Speaking from New York on Monday, President Obama said investigators do not see a connection between the St. Cloud mall stabbings and the bombings in New York City and New Jersey. At a news conference Monday afternoon, St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said it appears to be a "lone attacker." Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton spoke with the president Monday morning, and released the following statement:
"President Obama called me at approximately 9:30am CDT to express his concern about the attack in St. Cloud and to offer any assistance needed. He asked me to convey his high regard for the work together by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. He also asked me to convey his deep appreciation for the heroism of the police officer who stopped the attacker."
New York suspect arrested
The man believed to be behind a bombing in New York City, Seaside Park, New Jersey and an attempted bombing in Elizabeth, NJ, was captured Monday morning.
Earlier in the day, the NYPD and FBI released Photos of Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28. He is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan with a last known address in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A cell phone found inside an un-detonated device on 27th St. in Manhattan on Saturday was linked to Rahami, law enforcement sources said.
Somali community speaks out
Local Somali community leaders held a press conference Sunday afternoon, condemning the actions of the suspect in the stabbing.
"We strongly condemn what happened last night," Haji Yussuf, a St. Cloud Somali community leader, said at the press conference. "It does not represent any religion. It does not represent any group."
Many in the community are worried backlash against Somalis and Muslims will follow the stabbing incident and urge people not to use the horrific crime to spread hate.
"We are all shocked just like you. We all grieve just like you," Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. "This is an act of an individual and we want our community to realize this fact."
Gov. Mark Dayton visited St. Cloud on Monday to meet with police and community members regarding the stabbings. He urges Minnesotans not to allow the event to motivate the spread of fear or hate.
"I implore the citizens of St. Cloud and the citizens of Minnesota to rise above this tragic incident," Dayton said at a press conference.
10 people were injured in the stabbing incident. The names of the victims have not been released, but authorities have released their ages and where they are from.
Male, 53, from Albany
Male, 31, from Avon
Female, 15, from Big Lake
Male, 22, from Big Lake
Female, 50, from Kimball
Male, 20, from St. Cloud
Male, 21, from St. Cloud
Male, 29, from St. Cloud
Male, 45, from St. Cloud
Male, 24, from Willmar