Minnesota

Minnesota mall attacker referenced Allah before stabbing rampage, police chief says

ISIS claimed responsibility after a knife-wielding man injured eight people at a mall in central Minnesota Saturday evening, a bloody rampage during which he reportedly asked at least one victim whether they were Muslim and referenced Allah.

St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said the suspect, whom he did not identify, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction. Five of the eight victims had been treated and released from a local hospital and all were expected to survive their injuries.

ISIS-related media on Sunday morning claimed responsibility for the attack, issuing a statement via a source.

"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 countries belonging to the crusader coalition," the statement said.

Authorities didn't identify the attacker, but the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said the man's father identified him as Dahir A. Adan, 22. Speaking to the newspaper through an interpreter, Ahmed Adan, whose family is Somali, said his son was born in Africa and had lived in the U.S. for 15 years.

A spokesman for St. Cloud State University confirmed that Adan was a student there, but has not been enrolled since the spring semester. Spokesman Adam Hammer said Adan's intended major was information systems, which is a computer-related field.

He said police told him at around 9 p.m. Saturday that his son had died at the mall, and that police had raided the family's apartment, seizing photos and other materials. He said police said nothing to him about the mall attack, and that he had "no suspicion" that his son had been involved in terrorist activity, the newspaper reported.

Police responded to reports of several stabbings at the Crossroads Mall at around 8:30 p.m. local time. Witnesses also reported hearing gunshots at the scene. 

Local police had three previous encounters with the suspect, most for minor traffic violations, Anderson said, adding that the FBI had offered to help with the investigation.

"The FBI is actively engaged at the scene with the St. Cloud Police Department," the bureau said in a statement Sunday. "Law enforcement is in the process of ascertaining the facts as to what occurred last night."

Authorities "have no reason to believe" anyone else was involved in the attacks, Anderson said. He said the stabbings occurred in several places within the mall, including corridors, businesses and common areas.

"The entire mall is an active crime scene," Anderson said, adding that the facility would be closed on Sunday.

The mall remained on lockdown following the incident, but authorities expected those remaining inside to be released early Sunday. Photos and video of the mall taken hours after the incident showed groups of shoppers waiting to be released, including some huddled together near a food court entrance.

“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,” worker Ashley Bayne told WCCO. “They were screaming, ‘Someone’s stabbing people in the mall,’ and people were just really frantic and were running.”

Harley and Tama Exsted of Isle, Minn., who were in St. Cloud to watch their son play in a college golf tournament, were in the mall.

"All of a sudden I heard pop pop pop," Harley Exsted told the St. Cloud Times. "I thought someone tipped over a shelf. All of a sudden these people started running. I just saw everybody running our way."

The two were unharmed and said they helped another woman who was running from the scene to her car.

Adonis Samuels, 42, of St. Cloud, was outside the mall where his wife Roxanne is employed as a manager at Clinique at Macy's.

"She called me on the phone and told me she was hiding under the counter with a customer," Samuels said. She later called and said she was safe in a secured area.

Samuels remained outside, watching for her. He said he'd seen her through the glass doors at one point so he knew she was safe.

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Fox News' Matt Dean and The Associated Press contributed to this report.