UPDATE: FBI Investigating Mall Stabbing as a “Potential Act of Terrorism”
ST. CLOUD (WJON News) — The FBI is investigating the stabbing attack at Crossroads Shopping Center — that injured 9 shoppers and left the suspect dead — as a potential act of terrorism.
At a news conference at the St. Cloud Police headquarters, FBI special agent in charge, Richard Thorton says they are investigating the attack as “a potential act of terrorism.” He says this is a “fluid situation” and it will continue to evolve as the investigation progresses. Thorton says state, local, and federal authorities are investigating the suspect’s motivation for attacking and wounding nine people Saturday night.
Thorton says they are going through the unnamed suspect’s social media and electronic devices and are talking with his friends and associates to determine his motivation.
St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson says two search warrants were issued for two different locations in St. Cloud involved in the case and the suspect’s vehicle was searched and impounded.
Authorities have not released any information on the suspect other than confirming he was not a mall employee and that he was wearing a security guard uniform and was brandishing a knife. Anderson says they are waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify the suspect.
Chief Anderson says as far as authorities know, the suspect left no “manifesto” explaining his actions.
Anderson says the man responsible for the stabbing was shot and killed by an off-duty Avon police officer, Jason Falconer. Falconer is a former police chief for the city of Albany.
Surveillance tape from Macy’s department store shows the suspect was shot three times. After each shot, the suspect stood up and attempted to attack Officer Falconer.
Lead investigator Lieutenant Lori Ellering says security footage from individual stores are being pieced together. There is no central video surveillance system in Crossroads Center.
Chief Anderson says he reviewed the tape of the shooting and he believes Officer Falconer’s actions were “swift and direct, and in (his) opinion, appropriate.”
Police originally said eight people were hurt, but they now know a ninth stabbing victim took themselves to the Long Prairie hospital for treatment. St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says among the injured are seven men and two women. All suffered from non-life threatening injuries, he said.
Kleis described the victims as:
— A 22-year-old man from Big Lake,
— 24-year-old man from Willmar,
— 53-year-old man from Albany,
— 45-year-old man from St. Cloud,
— 20-year-old man from St. Cloud,
— 29-year-old man from St. Cloud,
— 31-year-old man from Avon,
— 15-year-old girl from Big Lake, and,
— a 50-year-old woman from Kimball.
Kleis called the attack a “tragic situation” and an “evil act, unjustifiable in any means.”
Police were called to the Crossroads Shopping Center shortly after 8:00 p.m. Saturday after first receiving 911 calls about a person stabbing shoppers in the mall.
Chief Anderson confirmed the suspect referenced “Allah” and asked at least one victim if they were Muslim before stabbing them.
An Islamic State-run news agency claims the suspect was a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
Mayor Kleis thanked emergency crews, law enforcement and citizens for their response. He says there has been an outpouring of support from around the world.
Chief Anderson told reporters “St. Cloud is a very resilient community. St. Cloud is filled with hard-working, right-thinking, decent people. And we’re going to be stronger because of this.”
Crossroads Center will remain closed on Sunday and is expected to reopen Monday.