Details about what happened inside Crossroads Center the night of Sept. 17 – when 20-year-old Dahir Adan stabbed multiple people, before being fatally shot – have been released.
The attack at the St. Cloud mall injured 10, and during the nearly hour-long news conference Thursday, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis asked people to remember the victims – not just the physical wounds of those who were stabbed, but their emotional wounds, as well as the wounds of witnesses and loved ones.
Adan's stabbing attack occurred just 19 days ago – and for the first time, officials spoke publicly about what exactly happened inside the mall. Here is some of what we learned during the news conference.
Video footage from inside the mall, released by authorities on Thursday, shows Adan attacking a store worker before being shot by Avon police officer Jason Falconer.
You can watch the footage released Thursday here. Note that it is graphic and violent. Please consider that before watching.
Adan's confrontation with Falconer
Adan's stabbing spree was halted after Falconer shot and killed him in the mall's Macy's.
Falconer was in Bath and Body Works, heard commotion, and then was approached by Adan, according to Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall, who said dozens of witnesses, photos, and video evidence helped them piece together what happened.
Adan, wearing a security uniform from his job, went up to Falconer and asked if he was Muslim – something he did with some of the other stabbing victims. Falconer said no, and Adan turned and walked away.
Falconer then saw Adan holding two knives, and pulled out his gun, ordering him to stop and drop the weapons. Adan took off and Falconer followed, and the two ended up in the Macy's.
Surveillance footage (which will be available and online shortly) shows Adan lie down on the ground in a clothing rack area – then after a few seconds, jump up and sprint at Falconer. Falconer fired while backing up, and tripped over his own feet and fell. Adan also went to the ground, as Falconer backed away.
After about a minute, Adan got back up – still with a knife – and the two circled the clothing area, before Adan lunged again. Falconer once again backpedaled and fired, striking Adan multiple times. Adan also turned his back midway through and took some of the bullets to that side – which can clearly be seen in the surveillance video.
Adan remains on the ground, a knife still in his hand and blood beginning to seep on to the floor. After a short time, he attempts to crawl away slowly. He goes out of the video's frame, at which point Kendall said he attempted to use a sign to stand up. It fell over, and he collapsed with it, and that was the end of the confrontation.
Kendall said Falconer fired 10 shots, and investigators have accounted for all of them. Six struck Adan, including in the back and leg.
Falconer will not face charges
As part of the county attorney's duty, they have to always consider if a police shooting was justified.
Kendall said all of the information they have – video, photos, witness accounts, and more – "clearly show that officer Falconer was justified in the use of deadly force.”
Multiple witnesses say Falconer repeatedly identified himself as an off-duty officer and showed his badge to Adan during the encounter in Macy's. He also has a permit to carry.
More than 120 people responded to the scene, many of them EMTs who did give medical assistance to Adan, she said.
Adan appears to have been 'radicalized'
Much of the FBI's terrorism investigation is focused on why Adan carried out the attack.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton said at the news conference they've spoken to more than 150 people, poured through dozens of hours of video footage and sifted through more than 780 GB of data. And they're still piecing together his digital footprint, including looking at technical and legal measures they can use to access his iPhone – which at this point is still locked.
But the entire picture so far suggests Adan "may have been radicalized." Whether it happened by the influence of other groups or on his own volition isn't known.
According to Thornton, Adan became increasingly interested in Islam in recent months and began reading the Quran (which in and of itself is not a sign of extremism, he noted). He become increasingly more isolated, withdrawing from friends. He stopped playing basketball and Xbox, two things he enjoyed doing frequently before. He began telling female relatives to follow religious code more. His grades went from very good to flunking almost overnight.
During the attack, he asked multiple victims if they were Muslim, and was heard yelling "Allahu akbar" and "Islam Islam."
All of that, coupled with his behavior in the mall during the attacks, means you could "reasonably conclude that his actions were consistent with the philosophies of violent radical Islamic groups," Thornton said.
The attack was likely premeditated
Thornton said signs point to Adan having planned the attack, at least to some extent.
When he arrived home from work at about 3 p.m., he stayed in his private security uniform (which he kept on during the attack) and didn't take a nap, which was not his normal behavior. He didn't work again until 10 p.m., and when his parents asked why he was still dressed for the job, he replied he "had work to do" that night.
Around 6:44 p.m., he texted his boss saying he couldn't come in to work.
And before driving to the mall he stopped at a SuperAmerica, where he was a frequent customer. While he was leaving, an employee said "see you later." Adan replied: "You won’t be seeing me again.” He then went home for a short time before driving to Crossroads Mall.
The investigation continues
The investigation is still active, and being handled by the FBI at this point, and Thornton called it "somewhat unusual" for the agency to publicly discuss an ongoing terrorism investigation.
Investigators with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force took over as the lead agency on the case recently.
The FBI said after the attack they were treating it as a potential act of terrorism. The Islamic State responded to the stabbing by calling Adan a "soldier." But in the days that followed, investigators said they found no link between Adan and the militant group.
Last week, FBI Director James Comey said during testimony Adan appears to have been "inspired," at least in part, by extremist groups, The Associated Press reported.