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St. Cloud chief: 'Lone attacker' drove mall stabbing rampage

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Sunday press conference after mall stabbing.
St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson and other officials hold a press conference Sunday, giving updated information on the Crossroads Center stabbings at the St. Cloud Police Department.
Jason Wachter | St. Cloud Times via AP

 Updated: 8:45 p.m. | Posted: 9:47 a.m.

A spasm of violence Saturday night at a popular St. Cloud shopping mall left 10 wounded and the suspect dead.

Authorities say Dahir Ahmed Adan, 20, attacked shoppers with a knife before he was confronted and shot by an off-duty police officer.

The violence appeared to be the work of a "lone attacker," officials said Monday, but they are looking at whether it was a potential act of terrorism.

"We haven't uncovered anything that would suggest other than a lone attacker at this point," St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said at a news conference with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. "If that changes, we will be transparent about that."

Adan's family released its first public statement Monday night expressing condolences and well-wishes to the victims of the attack.

Dahir Adan's Facebook profile photo
Dahir Adan's Facebook profile photo
Facebook

Family members are grieving the loss of Adan and cooperating with the investigation, the statement said. 

Adan, a young Somali man dressed as a private security guard, entered the Crossroads Center mall Saturday wielding what appeared to be a kitchen knife. 

Anderson has said the man reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if he or she was Muslim before attacking. The man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. None of the injured suffered life-threatening wounds.

The motive of Saturday's attack is still unclear, but FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Thornton has said it is being investigated as a "potential act of terrorism." 

Injuries reported at a St. Cloud shopping mall.
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall between Macy's and Target.
St. Cloud Times via AP

The ISIS terror group claimed responsibility, but it wasn't clear whether the attacker was radicalized. 

Authorities were digging into his background and possible motives, looking at social media accounts and electronic devices and talking to his associates, Thornton said.

Leaders of Minnesota's large Somali community have condemned the stabbings, saying the Adan does not represent them and expressing fear of backlash.

Adan's family in its statement asked citizens to not jump to conclusions but let the investigation run its course.

"Our family loves St. Cloud and this state, and we are an integral part of the fabric of this society," it said. "Therefore, we urge the citizens of St. Cloud and of this state to stay united and let the law enforcement agencies gather the facts and do their jobs."

The family also asked for privacy.

Experts say that if Saturday's stabbings are ultimately deemed a terrorist act, it would be the first carried out by a Somali on U.S. soil. 

Rescue workers gather near Macy's at Crossroads.
Rescue workers gather near Macy's at Crossroads Center Saturday evening.
Dave Schwarz | St. Cloud Times

A news agency run by ISIS 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  coalition against ISIS, but it wasn't immediately known whether the extremist group had planned the attack or knew about it beforehand.

Authorities said Adan three previous encounters with police, mostly for minor traffic violations.

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

A spokesman for St. Cloud State University confirmed that Adan was a student majoring in information systems, but hadn't been enrolled since the spring semester.

Anderson has said the man began attacking people right after entering the mall, stabbing people in several spots. The victims included seven men, one woman and a 15-year-old girl. All have been released.

Five minutes after authorities received the first 911 call, Jason Falconer, a part-time officer in the city of Avon who was there shopping, began shooting the attacker as he was lunging at him with the knife, Anderson said, and continued to engage him as the attacker got up three times.

"He clearly prevented additional injuries and potential loss of life," Anderson said.

The mall reopened Monday after being closed Sunday.

Sydney Weires, 18, and two of her friends saw a man who appeared to be a security guard sprinting down the hallway, and then two men stumbled out.

"One was covered in blood down his face," she said, and the other man had blood on his back. "They were screaming, 'Get out of the mall. Someone has a knife,'" Weires said.

Authorities at first said there were nine victims of the attack. Late Monday afternoon, officials said a tenth victim was identified and that the person did not initially seek out medical attention given the nature of the injury.

One of the 10 people injured in a stabbing at a central Minnesota mall says the man who carried out the attack showed no emotion and his eyes looked blank.

Ryan Schliep of Willmar, Minn., said he initially saw the attacker with a girl on Saturday and thought they were playing around. But he realized the situation was serious when the man "just walked right at me."

Schliep told WCCO-TV that he fell to the ground when the attacker stabbed him in the head.

Schliep and the other victims have all been released from the hospital.