Time: 11:20 p.m. CEST
A knife-wielding suspect who was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah while attacking at least nine people during a mass stabbing incident at the Crossroads Center shopping mall was shot dead by an off-duty police officer from Avon, authorities said, the Minnesota Public Radio reports. Jason Falconer, former police chief of Albany, Minn., was shopping when he confronted the suspect.
At a news conference at the police department just after noon on Saturday, St. Cloud mayor David Kleis said he believes Falconer prevented additional injuries and loss of life. “Clearly he is a hero. Officer Falconer was there at the right time and the right place.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation’s special agent in charge, Rick Thornton said, they are investigating this as a potential act of terrorism. “Do say potential, there is a lot we do not know, we do not know at this moment whether the subject was in contact with, in connections with, or inspired by a foreign terror organization,” Thornton said, as the AP video shows.
Eight people were treated at St. Cloud Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following the attack first reported about 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the mall. Three people were admitted, according to Chris Nelson, spokeswoman for St. Cloud Hospital. A ninth victim went to the Long Prairie Hospital.
The St. Cloud police have served search warrants at two apartments in the city, Anderson said, and police found and impounded the suspect’s car. He added that nothing “suggests that it is anything other than what it appears to be now — at this time.”
Local police had three previous encounters with the suspect, “nothing more serious than traffic violations,” Anderson said. Authorities “have no reason to believe” anyone else was involved in the attacks, Anderson said. Anderson also said the suspect made at least one reference to Allah during the attack and asked at least one person whether they were Muslim.
The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with the St. Cloud police, are investigating the incident as a potential act of terrorism. “And I do say potential,” said Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Minnesota. Authorities are not releasing the name of the suspect. Anderson said that information will come from the medical examiner.
An Islamic State-run news agency, Rasd, claimed Sunday that the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic State” who had heeded the group’s calls for attacks in countries that are part of a U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, according to the Associated Press and National Public Radio.
St. Cloud is about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Associated Press contributed to this report