ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - A man in a private security uniform stabbed nine people at a Minnesota shopping mall, reportedly asking one victim if they were Muslim before an off-duty police officer shot and killed him in an attack the Islamic State group claimed as its own.
None of the nine people who were stabbed in Saturday night's attack received life-threatening wounds, St. Cloud police Chief Blair Anderson said. He said it doesn't appear that anyone else was involved in the attack at the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, which began at around 8 p.m. and was over within minutes.
At a news conference Sunday, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Thornton said the attack was being investigated as a possible act of terrorism and that agents were still digging into the attacker's background and possible motives.
An Islamic State-run news agency, Rasd, 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 anti-IS coalition.
It was not immediately clear if the extremist group had planned the attack or even knew about it beforehand. IS has encouraged so-called "lone wolf" attacks. It has also claimed past attacks that are not believed to have been planned by its central leadership.
Authorities didn't identify the attacker, but the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said the man's father identified him as Dahir A. Adan, 22, a student at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. 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.
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.
Anderson said police had had three previous encounters with the attacker, mostly for minor traffic violations.
According to Anderson, the attacker, dressed in a security uniform and wielding what appeared to be a kitchen knife, began attacking people right after entering the mall, stabbing people in several spots inside the building, including corridors, businesses and common areas.
Five minutes after authorities received the first 911 call, Jason Falconer, a part-time officer in the city of Avon, shot and killed the attacker, whose name hasn't been released. Anderson said Falconer fired as the attacker was lunging at him with the knife, and continued to engage him as the attacker got up three times.
"He clearly prevented additional injuries and potential loss of life," Anderson said.
"Officer Falconer was there at the right time and the right place," he said.
Anderson earlier said the man reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if they were Muslim before attacking them.
The mall remained closed Sunday. Of the nine victims -- seven men, a woman and a 15-year-old girl -- three remained hospitalized, officials said.
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.
Harley and Tama Exsted, of Isle, were in St. Cloud to watch their son play in a college golf tournament and were in the mall when the attack happened.
"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 couple were unharmed and said they helped another woman who was running from the scene to her car.
Falconer, who was shopping when he confronted the attacker, is the former police chief in Albany, which is about 15 miles northwest of St. Cloud, and the president and owner of a firing range and firearms training facility, according to his LinkedIn profile. His profile says he focuses on firearms and permit-to-carry training, and also teaches "decision shooting" to law enforcement students at St. Cloud State University.
Hillary Clinton released this statement after Saturday’s attacks: “I strongly condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. I pray for all of those who were wounded, and for their families. Once again, we saw the bravery of our first responders who run toward danger to help others. Their quick actions saved lives. Law enforcement officials are working to identify who was behind the attacks in New York and New Jersey and we should give them the support they need to finish the job and bring those responsible to justice - we will not rest until that happens. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Minnesota, and this should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups. I have laid out a comprehensive plan to do that. This includes launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone wolf attackers. We also need to work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online. Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger. I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear.”