In St. Cloud, Minnesota, a man in a security guard’s uniform stabbed and injured nine shoppers at a mall on Saturday before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. The attacker was later identified as Ahmed Adan, a 22-year-old born in Kenya of Somali descent who has lived in the U.S. for the last 15 years. Adan reportedly mentioned Allah and asked at least one victim if he was Muslim, the police said. All nine victims were expected to survive. The wounded include seven men, one woman and a teenage girl, all from the St. Cloud area.
Chief William Blair Anderson of the St. Cloud police said the attack had started around 8 p.m. and played out at different sites within Crossroads Center, including multiple businesses and common areas. Chief Anderson told reporters at the scene, “It has hit home for us,” adding, “But I want everybody in St. Cloud to know that we will be diligent and we will get to the bottom of this.” “It’s an awful day, honestly,”
In a phone interview the morning after the attack, Mayor Dave Kleis said the mall, Crossroads Center, was an active crime scene and would remain closed. He praised the off-duty police officer, who he said had “clearly saved lives and protected the other individuals.”
Mr. Kleis, who went to Crossroads Center after the attack, said that “there were a lot of people in that mall and clearly a lot of witnesses,” and that police interviews had stretched well into Sunday morning. Witnesses and local journalists spoke of a busy, crowded and confusing scene after the attack, as well as a swift police mobilization.
Later that day, the off-duty officer was identified as Jason Falconer, a police officer in nearby Avon, Minn. Video footage of the shooting, which has not been released publicly, showed Officer Falconer confronting the attacker in a Macy’s store and shooting him as he charged with a knife.
Chief Anderson said officers had searched two local residences on Sunday in connection with the case. He said the police had had at least three prior interactions with the attacker, mostly for minor traffic violations. The investigation is proceeding, and Adan’s family is cooperating. But for now, the chief says this looks like the work of a lone attacker.
Authorities say on the night of the attack, around two hours before the attack, Adan told his family he was going to buy an iPhone 7. It’s unclear what time he put on a security guard’s uniform-similar to the one he wore while working a previous job at a nearby appliance factory. Once inside the mall, Adan went on a chaotic stabbing rampage, injuring 10 people before the off-duty police officer shot him in the Macy’s store.
In a public statement on Monday night, Adan’s family said they were experiencing the same “deep shock as everyone else is in the state of Minnesota.” “We are devastated by the incomprehensible tragic event of last Saturday evening,”
Richard Thornton, the special agent in charge for the F.B.I. in Minneapolis, said the agency was treating it as a potential terrorist act but was still investigating. An ISIS website claimed responsibility, calling the assailant a “soldier of the Islamic State.”