A man armed with a knife who stabbed eight people inside a Minnesota mall last night was killed by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.
The attacks happened around 8 p.m. inside the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis, according to media reports.
The suspect, who was wearing a private security uniform, made at least one reference to Allah during the attack and asked at least one person if they were Muslim before attacking them, according to the St. Cloud Police Department. Seven of the victims were treated and released, and one was admitted to a local hospital.
The off-duty officer from another jurisdiction confronted the man, and shot and killed him, police said.
“I want everyone in St. Cloud to know we will be diligent and get to the bottom of this,” St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said during the news conference after midnight Sunday. “Starting tomorrow, St. Cloud will not be the same anymore.”
Anderson declined to call the attacks an act of terrorism. The suspect’s motive remains unknown, he told reporters.
Sydney Weires told the St. Cloud Times that she and her friends were walking down a hallway toward Sears when they heard a loud scream.
“I saw this security guard sprinting down the hallway toward Target,” Weirs told the paper. “He was yelling, ‘Call the cops! Call the cops!'”
She said they later saw two men drenched in blood; one was bleeding from the side of his face, while the other had blood on the back of his shirt.
“He was screaming at us, ‘get…out!'” she said about one of the men, according to the paper.
Weires and her friends were able to leave the mall before authorities implemented a lockdown following the incident.
“We could have been one of the victims,” Weires told the paper. “It’s insane.”
Harley Exsted said he and his wife were in St. Cloud yesterday to watch their son play in a college golf tournament.
“All of a sudden I heard pop pop pop,” Harley told the paper. “I just thought someone tipped over a shelf. All of a sudden these people started running. I just saw everybody running away.”
But then when we heard the screaming, then we knew it was time to go,” he added.
Authorities have not released the name of the suspect, or the name of the officer who killed him. The suspect has had encounters with police before, Anderson told reporters, but most were for minor traffic violations.
Authorities do not believe anyone else was involved in the attacks.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis also addressed reporters Sunday.
“Thoughts and our prayers go (to) those who were injured tonight,” Kleis said, he told reporters.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Kristine Guerra