A knife-wielding suspect who was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah while attacking at least eight people during a mass stabbing attack at a Minnesota shopping mall was shot dead by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.
St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said during a news conference that eight people were taken to St. Cloud Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following the attack first reported about 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the Crossroads Center. One person was admitted. No further details were released.
Five minutes after authorities received the first 911 call, Jason Falconer, a part-time officer in the city of Avon, shot and killed the attacker. Anderson said Falconer fired as the attacker was lunging at him with the knife, and continued to engage him as the attacker got up three times.
“He clearly prevented additional injuries and potential loss of life,” 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.
But Anderson declined to call the attacks an act of terrorism, saying the motive for the attacks isn’t known yet. “We will be diligent and get to the bottom of this,” Anderson said. “Starting tomorrow, things won’t be the same here.”
Local police had three previous encounters with the suspect, most for minor traffic violations, Anderson said, adding that the FBI had offered to help with the investigation.
Authorities “have no reason to believe” anyone else was involved in the attacks, Anderson said. He said the stabbings occurred in several places within the mall, including corridors, businesses and common areas.
“The entire mall is an active crime scene,” Anderson said.
The mall remained closed Sunday. Of the nine victims — seven men, a woman and a 15-year-old girl — three remained hospitalized, officials said.
Photos and video of the mall taken hours after the incident showed groups of shoppers waiting to be released, including some huddled together near a food court entrance.
An Islamic State supporter carried out the stabbing attack that wounded at least eight people at a mall in the U.S. state of Minnesota on Saturday, the militant group’s Amaq news agency said.
“The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” Amaq said in a statement.