Never a doubt in my mind.
Off-duty officer’s fatal shooting of St. Cloud mall attacker officially deemed ‘justified and lawful’
By Jennifer Brooks and Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune Today at 12:51 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS — The off-duty police officer who shot and killed a man who stabbed 10 people last month at a St. Cloud mall was justified in shooting the assailant, who may have been inspired by Islamic terror groups, authorities said Thursday.
Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall, who revealed video showing suspect Dahir Adan running about inside the mall and being shot while holding knives, announced her decision during a news conference at police headquarters that cleared Avon police officer Jason Falconer of any wrongdoing.
In explaining her conclusion that the shooting was “justified and lawful,” Kendall laid out the events in the mall, noting that Adan, a 20-year-old Somali refugee, was armed with two steak knives and asked some of his victims whether they were Muslim.
She said Adan chased and stabbed his victims in the head, neck and chest while stores frantically shut their gates and shoppers ran for cover.
At one point, Kendall added, Adan asked Falconer whether he was Muslim. Falconer chased Adan, identified himself as an officer and ordered Adan to drop the knives.
“Sometimes he’s asking (people) whether they are Muslim, other times he’s just stabbing them,” Kendall said as she showed images of Adan’s movements in the mall that night.
Adan charged Falconer twice, a knife in each hand, ignoring orders to stop, Kendall said. Adan was shot six times in all, the county attorney added.
Kendall then narrated while video showed Adan being shot by Falconer. At one point, Adan stumbled backward toward Falconer in Macy’s. Falconer then shoots Adan, who goes down on the floor, then struggles in an effort in vain to get back to his feet.
FBI special agent in Charge Richard Thornton, following Kendall, said that Adan may have become radicalized, on his own or by others. Thornton said the FBI is trying to unlock his phone to learn more about his thoughts leading up to the attacks.
In recent months, Thornton added, Adan became interested in religion, lost interest in things he used to enjoy, such as basketball and video games, and flunked out of school.
Earlier in the day on Sept. 17, Adan stopped at a store he regularly visits, Thornton said. As he left, he told people there, “‘You won’t be seeing me again.’”
On the way to the mall, the FBI official said, Adan was involved in a hit-and-run with a bicyclist. The cyclist rolled across his hood, but Adan did not stop, Thornton said. Adan then ran a red light and arrived at the mall’s south lot, just six minutes from home.
Also attending the briefing Thursday morning were Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson. Members of the attacker’s family and others from the Somali community were also at the news conference.
Police took no questions from reporters, but authorities were ready to show video from the mall that night.
Adan donned a security guard uniform and slashed his way through the mall with a pocket knife. Adan referred to Allah and asked one or more of the 10 victims whether they were Muslim, Anderson has said.
In the more than two weeks since, the St. Cloud community — including grief-stricken friends and family members who described Adan as a hardworking, studious young man — has waited to hear what motivated the attack and what led up to it.
Hours after the stabbings, a media agency for the Islamic State terrorist group took to Twitter and claimed credit for the attacks. The next day, Anderson said authorities had not found evidence that Adan had been radicalized or had contact with terrorist groups.
But last week, FBI Director James Comey told a congressional committee that Adan might have been inspired in some way by a foreign terrorist group.