A man entered a busy shopping mall in Minnesota and stabbed nine people while referencing Allah and asking at least one victim if he was Muslim, according to the St. Cloud police chief.
The news agency for ISIS released a statement claiming the St. Cloud attack and calling the suspect a “soldier” for the Islamic State. Authorities had not verified the claim.
The suspect was identified by Minnesota news media as Dahir Adan, a 22-year-old college student born in Africa. However, authorities have not officially identified the suspect; The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says Adan’s father identified him as the suspect and search warrants were conducted at his apartment, and The St. Cloud Times says Somali community leaders ID’d Adan as the stabber too.
The attacker was wearing a private security uniform and armed with a knife during the September 17 mass attack, according to St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson. The mass stabbing occurred around the same time that an explosion in Manhattan horrified and fixated the country.
Authorities said they were considering the Minnesota stabbings a terrorist act. “We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, of the FBI, said in a news conference on the afternoon of September 18.
Hailed as a hero was an off-duty police officer and concealed carry advocate, Jason Falconer, who shot and killed Adan in the mall. Falconer owns a Minnesota gun range called Tactical Advantage. Read more about Falconer here.
“I want to recognize the individual off-duty police officer who eliminated the threat, and took down the suspect,” said St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis in a news conference on September 18, adding that Falconer “clearly prevented additional injuries and potentially loss of life.”
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Minnesota attack.
“The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countrys belonging to the crusader coalition,” said the statement by Amaq Agency, the news agency for ISIS.
Anderson addressed the news media around midnight in the mass stabbing attack that was largely overshadowed by the New York explosion, which injured at least 29 people, one seriously. It was not clear whether the New York attack was related to terrorism.
However, in the heartland, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the police chief said the attacker at the Crossroads Center Shopping Mall “made some references to Allah, and we have confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them. We do know there were approximately eight people transported to the St. Cloud Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The suspect was confronted by an off duty police officer and summarily shot and killed….no customers were killed.”
Authorities later added another stabbing victim to the total of those injured, bringing the number to nine.
The Somali museum of Minnesota says the state is home to the United States’ largest Somali diaspora. In July, three Somali immigrants were convicted in Minnesota of plotting to join ISIS, says MPRNews. Yahoo News says nine Minnesota Somalis overall have been accused of plotting to join the Islamic State since 2014; Donald Trump previously provoked criticism on the campaign trail when he quoted a Washington Times article that had called Minnesota a rich recruiting pool for ISIS due to its levels of Somali immigration (30,000 Somali refugees live in Minnesota).
St. Cloud is a community of about 67,000 people located in central Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said only one of the stabbing victims remained hospitalized in the early morning hours of September 18; as with the explosion in New York, fatalities did not occur in Minnesota, with the exception of the gunman, although KARE 11-TV said bloody shoppers were seen walking around the mall. The mall was on lockdown for hours.
You can watch the police chief’s comments here:
You can watch the second law enforcement press conference here:
WCCO interviewed an eyewitness, Ashley Bayne, who works at the J.C. Penney store in the mall. She told WCCO: “I went closer to the mall entrance by J.C. Penney’s and I was looking at some jeans and all the sudden people were just running in chaos. They were screaming, ‘Someone’s stabbing people in the mall,’ and people were just really frantic and were running.”
The St. Cloud attack occurred around 8 p.m., said the chief. It also came on the same day in which a bomb exploded in a garbage can in New Jersey at the starting line of the Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K. No one was injured in that blast. The St. Cloud chief said there was no evidence at this time that the incidents of the day were related.
“It has hit home for us,” Chief Anderson said in the midnight news conference. “It’s an awful day. Starting tomorrow, things won’t be the same.”
Asked if he would call the St. Cloud mall stabbing a terrorist attack, he said, “Not yet.” He said police needed to investigate and do their due diligence. “What we know it is is a lone suspect who attacked eight people. Whether that was a terrorist attack, we are not willing to say that right now because we just don’t know.”
Anderson said the mall remained an active crime scene, and authorities were still investigating. The chief said the suspect had “at least one knife…big enough to hurt someone” but no gun. He said police had no indication anyone else was involved. He said the stabbings occurred in multiple locations, different businesses and common areas.
The chief said police had at least three previous contacts with the suspect for mostly minor traffic violations.
“Whether it is a terrorist attack or not… we just don’t know,” the police chief said in a midnight news conference. “Let us get to the bottom of that.”
Police also released sketchier details about the attack in an earlier news release.
See more photos, tweets, and videos on the St. Cloud stabbing here:
At least eight people were stabbed at Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota by a suspect who is dead, according to police.Click here to read more
The Islamic State Amaq News "agency" has claimed that the mass stabbing at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota was carried out by a "soldier" of the Islamic State.Click here to read more
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