Authorities in Bloomington say a Woodbury man who robbed Mall of America on Friday with a loaded AR-15-style rifle had a valid permit to carry and no criminal history.
During a press conference Friday afternoon, Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges commended mall security and police for their quick work in arresting the suspect without incident. There were no injuries reported.
According to Hodges, a mall visitor called security to report suspicious activity after spotting the man entering the mall on the east side of the third floor.
The 28-year-old man was walking "nonchalantly" with an AR-15-style rifle with a pistol grip at his side, according to Hodges.
"Most people were oblivious that he was walking by them with a weapon," he said.
Investigators believe the man robbed Twin Cities Pawn in Minneapolis before heading to the mall. Hodges said the suspect first robbed a kiosk at the mall and stole a "little mechanical puppy dog" before proceeding to the Lids store.
At the Lids store, the suspect allegedly pulled out his rifle and demanded store employees start putting jerseys into a bag.
Hodges said a law enforcement "reactionary team" had been set into motion as soon as receiving the initial tip and stood ready at this point to take the suspect into custody. The suspect was immediately tackled by law enforcement after leaving the store, within eight minutes of the first call.
According to Hodges, police decided not to place the mall under lockdown during the incident in order to avoid further escalating the situation.
The suspect, who Hodges said has "no criminal history at all", is pending charges of armed robbery.
Although the suspect has a valid permit to carry, the Mall of America explicitly bans firearms on the premises.
The incident comes just a few weeks after shots were fired inside the mall, prompting visitors to flee and the mall to go under lockdown. The suspected shooter and a suspected accomplice evaded arrest for a week before being taken into custody in Chicago.
"The mall is still a safe place, but again, if someone has a weapon and they are just bent on doing something, I don't know what we do in any venue to stop that," Hodges said Friday, adding he chooses not to live in fear and doesn't support the addition of metal detectors at the mall.
Hodges said he believes the suspect in Friday's incident intended to rob the mall.
"We don't have anything at this point to indicate he was going to do anything other than rob the mall," he said.