Avon chief: Cop right person to stop mall attack; needs time to cope

Updated 2:30 p.m. | Posted 12:05 p.m.

Jason Falconer's expertise as a firearms instructor and competitive shooter was just what was needed to stop a stabbing rampage Saturday night at a St. Cloud mall, his boss said Monday.

"If I was going to ask anybody to fire live rounds in a crowded mall I would trust his abilities next to anybody's," Avon Police Chief Corey Nellis told reporters. "He was the right person, at the right place, at the right time."

Nellis, though, also pleaded with the public to give Falconer privacy, calling him a victim of the situation as well. "He needs time to cope."

Falconer, who once led the Albany, Minn., force, works part time now for the Avon department. He was off duty while at the Crossroads Mall.

Asked if Falconer would be put on administrative leave, Nellis said Falconer wasn't scheduled to work a shift in the next two months anyway. Falconer is CEO and an instructor at Tactical Advantage, a firearms training center in Waite Park, Minn.

Nellis declined any other comment on the incident and Falconer's response other than to say he believed "divine intervention" led to Falconer's presence at the mall on Saturday to confront the knife-wielding assailant that Somali-American community leaders have identified as Dahir Adan.

Adan, who was wearing a security guard's uniform, began stabbing patrons Saturday while making references to Allah. At least nine people were stabbed before Falconer confronted, shot and killed him.

Adan was a former part-time employee of the security firm Securitas and was assigned for a few months to an Electrolux facility. In a statement released Monday, Securitas said Adan resigned in June. The company added that it has not been contacted by law enforcement but will cooperate if contacted.

Authorities have praised Falconer for intervening to keep Adan from injuring and potentially killing more people Saturday.

The FBI is investigating as a potential act of terrorism, although federal officials say they see no connection between the Minnesota stabbings and recent blasts in New York City that left 29 injured.

Gov. Mark Dayton is in St. Cloud Monday meeting with local officials. Dayton said in a statement Monday that he'd spoken to President Barack Obama who offered the federal government's help and praised the work of local law enforcement, including the heroism of Falconer.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.