Police Chief: St. Cloud Crossroads Mall Stabber Mentioned Allah, Asked Victim if He Was Muslim
A man entered a busy shopping mall in Minnesota and stabbed eight people while referencing Allah and asking at least one victim if he was Muslim, according to the St. Cloud police chief.
The news agency for ISIS released a statement claiming the St. Cloud attack and calling the unidentified suspect a “soldier” for the Islamic State. Authorities had not verified the claim.
The suspect – who has not been identified – was wearing a private security uniform and armed with a knife during the September 17 mass attack, according to St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson. The mass stabbing occurred around the same time that an explosion in Manhattan horrified and fixated the country.
“The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countrys belonging to the crusader coalition,” said the statement by Amaq Agency, the news agency for ISIS.
Anderson addressed the news media around midnight in the mass stabbing attack that was largely overshadowed by the New York explosion, which injured at least 29 people, one seriously. It was not clear whether the New York attack was related to terrorism.
However, in the heartland, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the police chief said the attacker at theCrossroads Center Shopping Mall “made some references to Allah, and we have confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them. We do know there were approximately eight people transported to the St. Cloud Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The suspect was confronted by an off duty police officer and summarily shot and killed….no customers were killed.”
St. Cloud is a community of about 67,000 people located in central Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said only one of the eight stabbing victims remained hospitalized in the early morning hours of September 18; as with the explosion in New York, fatalities did not occur in Minnesota, with the exception of the gunman, although KARE 11-TV said bloody shoppers were seen walking around the mall.
WCCO interviewed an eyewitness, Ashley Bayne, who works at the J.C. Penney store in the mall. She told WCCO: “I went closer to the mall entrance by J.C. Penney’s and I was looking at some jeans and all the sudden people were just running in chaos. They were screaming, ‘Someone’s stabbing people in the mall,’ and people were just really frantic and were running.”
The St. Cloud attack occurred around 8 p.m., said the chief. It also came on the same day in which a bomb exploded in a garbage can in New Jersey at the starting line of the Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K. No one was injured in that blast. The St. Cloud chief said there was no evidence at this time that the incidents of the day were related.
“It has hit home for us,” Chief Anderson said in the midnight news conference. “It’s an awful day. Starting tomorrow, things won’t be the same.”
Asked if he would call the St. Cloud mall stabbing a terrorist attack, he said, “Not yet.” He said police needed to investigate and do their due diligence. “What we know it is is a lone suspect who attacked eight people. Whether that was a terrorist attack, we are not willing to say that right now because we just don’t know.”
Anderson said the mall remained an active crime scene, and authorities were still investigating. The chief said the suspect had “at least one knife…big enough to hurt someone” but no gun. He said police had no indication anyone else was involved. He said the stabbings occurred in multiple locations, different businesses and common areas.