An off-duty police officer who shot dead the suspect in a 2016 St. Cloud mall stabbing attack was called a hero Thursday at a ceremony where he received the Congressional Badge of Bravery.
Jason Falconer is the first Minnesota law enforcement officer to receive the award for his actions on Sept. 17, 2016, when 22-year-old Dahir Adan stabbed and injured 10 people at Crossroads Center.
Falconer received the award at a ceremony attended by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and Falconer's family.
"What we know now is if he hadn't been there, more people would have been hurt, some even killed," Klobuchar said. "His action in the face of danger, even when he wasn't on duty, is the definition of bravery."
Falconer was shopping at Crossroads on Sept. 17, 2016, when encountered Adan, who was wielding two knives. Falconer pursued Adan into a Macy's department store and shot him after Adan charged at him.
Assistant St. Cloud Police Chief Jeff Oxton said Falconer did everything right that day, including identifying himself as a police officer and giving the suspect an opportunity to surrender peacefully.
"He did what all of us hope we never have to do in this line of work," Oxton said. "He used the necessary force to stop the threat. He did that so that all those people that might have been harmed would not be. He did this at great peril to himself, to the way of life that he knows with his family and everybody else in his mind."
Mayor Dave Kleis, who watched security camera footage of the confrontation shortly after the attack, said he is certain Falconer prevented others from harm.
"You became a hero when you raised your hand and became a police officer for the first time," Kleis said. "You defined what a hero means when you took the action that you took on Sept. 17. You did what had to be done. You eliminated the threat, and there is no doubt in my mind that you saved lives."
Falconer is a former police chief of Albany and part-time officer for the city of Avon. He owns a firing range and firearms training facility called Tactical Advantage.
Falconer has avoided publicity since the attack, turning down most interview requests. He spoke briefly after the award presentation, thanking St. Cloud police and others for their support and expressing the desire to put the incident behind him.
"It's over, it's done, we move on," he said.
Smith noted that while Falconer was singled out for actions, police officers put their lives on the line every day.
"It's worth reminding ourselves that those in law enforcement put themselves in harm's way to keep the rest of us safe," she said.