ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KMSP) - SATURDAY:
St. Cloud Police say the suspect responsible for stabbing multiple people at Crossroads Center Saturday night has been shot and killed by an off-duty police officer. The off-duty police officer was not from the St. Cloud police department.
Police responded to Crossroads Center around 8:20 p.m. Saturday where eight people were attacked by a man with a knife.
In a press conference, St. Cloud Police Chief William Anderson said the suspect was wearing a private security uniform and carrying a knife. Police believe the suspect acted alone and could not say whether the incident was a terrorist attack or not.
Based on witness accounts, the suspect made reference to Allah and asked at least one of the victims if they were Muslim before he assaulted them.
The off-duty police officer who shot the suspect has been identified as Officer Jason Falconer, a part-time police officer with the Avon Police Department. He is the former chief of police in Albany.
In a press conference, Mayor Dave Kleis called Falconer a hero, saying he put his own life at risk to prevent anyone else from getting injured.
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, the Associated Press is reporting an Islamic State-run news agency claims the man who stabbed and wounded eight people was a "soldier of the Islamic State." The AP reports the IS-run Rasd news agency reported the claim, saying the attacker had heeded calls from the extremist group for attacks in countries that are part of a U.S.-led anti-IS coalition. It's not clear if the extremist group had planned the attack or even knew about it beforehand.
"I want everybody in St. Cloud to know, we will get to the bottom of this." Anderson said.
Police have had contact with the suspect before for minor traffic violations.
Crossroads Mall will be closed until further notice. Chief Anderson said the incident took place in multiple areas and the entire mall is an active crime scene.
Governor Mark Dayton will travel to St. Cloud on Monday, according to a statement.
I am appalled at the terrible attacks on innocent Minnesotans in St. Cloud last night. If true that they were motivated by religious bigotry, I condemn them even more strongly. There is no place in Minnesota for intolerance of all Americans’ constitutional right to worship according to their beliefs.
I am deeply grateful to the heroic law enforcement officer, whose swift response prevented an even worse attack. And I extend my very best wishes to the victims for their swift and complete recoveries. I ask everyone in the St. Cloud area and throughout Minnesota to rise above this atrocity and act to make religious and racial tolerance one of the ways in which Minnesotans again lead our country.
Tomorrow morning, I will travel to St. Cloud to offer my support to city officials and its citizens.
As of 12:30 a.m. Sunday, witnesses were still being interviewed by police.
Senator Amy Klobuchar released this statement,
Everyone should feel safe in their community -- whether they're at school or a movie theater or a shopping mall. Last night that feeling of safety was greatly shaken when an assailant stabbed eight people at the Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud. I have visited the mall many times, and I can't imagine the horror experienced by those visiting and working there. My heart goes out to the victims and all those who were there last night.
While we will learn more about the facts surrounding this horrific attack today, one thing we know for certain this morning: Due to the courageous actions of an off-duty area police officer, the good work of first responders, and the reaction of those present at the mall, lives were saved.
I have spoken with both Mayor Kleis and Chief Anderson in St. Cloud. They are both strong leaders, and I know they will do everything necessary to investigate this stabbing and get all the facts out to the community. Citizens and civic and religious leaders in St. Cloud have worked hard over the years to bridge divides and come together.
Over the next few days we will learn the facts. But today there is one thing we all share: We are thankful for the bravery of the off-duty officer and first responders who went beyond the call of duty to save lives.
Statement from Hillary Clinton,
I strongly condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. I pray for all of those who were wounded, and for their families. Once again, we saw the bravery of our first responders who run toward danger to help others. Their quick actions saved lives. Law enforcement officials are working to identify who was behind the attacks in New York and New Jersey and we should give them the support they need to finish the job and bring those responsible to justice - we will not rest until that happens. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Minnesota, and this should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups. I have laid out a comprehensive plan to do that. This includes launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone wolf attackers. We also need to work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online. Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger. I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear.
Fox 9 will bring you the most up to date information as we receive it.
During a press conference Mayor Dave Kleis released the ages of the victims:
22-year-old male from Big Lake, 24-year-old male from Willmar, 53-year-old male from Albany, 45-year-old male from St. Cloud, 20-year-old male from St. Cloud, 15-year-old female from Big Lake, 50-year-old woman from Kimball, 29-year-old male from St. Cloud, 31-year-old male from Avon.