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FBI: St. Cloud mall attack ‘a potential act of terrorism’; cop who killed suspect revealed

Update 5 p.m.

The Minnesota chapter of the nation’s biggest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) –  held a press conference on Sunday afternoon regarding the St. Cloud attack.

“The Minnesota Muslim community condemns all such acts of violence as inexcusable and un-Islamic,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a news release.

According to the St. Cloud Times, Hussein is concerned about retaliation against the Somali-American community in the wake of the attack because of the history of anti-Muslim sentiment there.

Update: 1 p.m.

The off-duty police officer who shot and killed the man suspected of a mass stabbing attack at Crossroads Mall on Saturday night has been revealed – while the FBI says it is investigating the incident as a “potential act of terrorism.”

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis confirmed that Jason Falconer, a part-time police officer with Avon PD and formerly chief of police in Albany, fatally shot the attacker believed to have stabbed nine people – including a 15-year-old girl.

Falconer is also named as the president and owner of guns and equipment training company Tactical Advantage.

“As someone who had the opportunity to witness the surveillance tape in Macy’s,” Mayor Kleis said, “he clearly prevented additional injuries and potentially loss of life. His heroic actions are exemplary.”

Mayor Kleis described the incident as an “evil act, unjustified by any means,” and said Falconer was “just in the right place at the right time.”

Just five minutes elapsed between the first 911 call and the attacker’s death.

ISIS claimed to a news agency in the Middle East that the attack was carried out by a “soldier of the Islamic State,” but Richard Thornton of the FBI said this has not yet been confirmed. He did say they were treating it as a “potential act of terrorism.”

“We do not know if the subject was in contact with, had connections with, or was inspired by a foreign terrorist organization,” he said.

Here are some other key points from the Sunday afternoon news conference:

  • The attacker “lunged” with his knife at Officer Falconer, who identified himself as an officer and opened fire in response. The attacker then managed to get back up three times after being shot, before dying.
  • The identity of the shooter has not been officially identified yet, but the St. Cloud Times reports he has been named by friends.
  • The suspect entered the mall from the southeast side near Sears, and entered Macy’s where he stabbed nine people – up from eight previously estimated, after one person admitted themselves into a hospital.
  • Names of the victims have not been revealed, but their details are as follows: Male, 22, from Big Lake; male, 24, from Willmar; male, 53, from Albany; male, 45, from St Cloud; male, 20, from St Cloud; girl, 15, from Big Lake; female, 50, from Kimball; male, 29, from St. Cloud; male, 31, from Avon.
  • Two properties linked to the attacker have been searched by FBI on Sunday. His car has been impounded.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council issued a tweet denouncing the actions of ISIS.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also condemned the attacks, saying: “If true that they were motivated by religious bigotry, I condemn them even more strongly. There is no place in Minnesota for intolerance of all Americans’ constitutional right to worship according to their beliefs.”

“I am deeply grateful to the heroic law enforcement officer, whose swift response prevented an even worse attack. And I extend my very best wishes to the victims for their swift and complete recoveries. I ask everyone in the St. Cloud area and throughout Minnesota to rise above this atrocity and act to make religious and racial tolerance one of the ways in which Minnesotans again lead our country.”

Update: 10 a.m. Sunday

The news agency for the Islamic State reports terrorist group has described the suspect in a mass stabbing at the Crossroads Center mall as a “soldier.”

A source allegedly told the Amaq News Agency that the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic State” and that he carried out the attack “in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said that the attacker was heard saying “Allah” during the stabbings, as well as asking people if they were Muslim before assaulting them. But Anderson said a motive has not yet been confirmed.

The New York Times has previously reported that the Amaq News Agency effectively acts as a press office for the Islamic State, albeit reporting it in a way that tones down Jihadist language to give content a “veneer” of objectivity.

The Associated Press reports that the Islamic State often claims credit in the immediate wake of terrorist attacks even if they had little to nothing to do with the organization of it – other than to have possibly “inspired” the attacker.

Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent now of security intelligence firm The Soufan Group, suggests that the Islamic State may have claimed credit just from reading news reports the attacker had mentioned “Allah.”

Update: Sunday early morning

More details have emerged about the stabbing attack at the Crossroads Center, which has left the attacker dead, eight injured and the city of St. Cloud in shock.

St. Cloud Police say the man thought responsible was killed by an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction, after he had attacked multiple people with a knife, leaving them all with non-life-threatening injuries.

According to a news release, the suspect is said to have referred to “Allah” during the attack, which started around 8:15 p.m., and is believed to have asked at least one person if they were a Muslim before assaulting them.

But city police chief William Blair Anderson said that he is not calling the stabbings a terrorist attack at this stage, telling media including the Star Tribune the motive isn’t known yet.

“It’s an awful day,” he added, saying the city “won’t be the same” after the attack. “We will be diligent and get to the bottom of this.”

The mall will remain closed on Sunday and will re-open on Monday, the mall confirmed on Facebook.

The Pioneer Press reports the suspect was wearing a private security uniform. Anderson said it “could’ve been a lot worse” if not for the quick response by the off-duty cop and other emergency authorities.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among those who have commented on Sunday, paying tribute to the off-duty officer and the emergency services who responded to the scene.

Also commenting is St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.

Original story

One person is dead and several are injured after a stabbing at a mall in St. Cloud, authorities say.

It happened around 8 p.m. Saturday, WCCO reports.

The St. Cloud Police Department says officers went to Crossroads Mall Saturday night and found multiple people with stab wounds.

Authorities say the victims are being treated for their injuries.

The suspect is dead inside the mall, police say.

As of 10:30 p.m., the mall is still on lockdown.

Police say they’re conducting searches and investigators are speaking to witnesses.

This story will updated as more information is released.

 

 

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