ISIS Wing Claims Responsibility For Minnesota Mall Attack

Courtesy: CNN

(CNN) — The man who stabbed eight people at a Minnesota mall Saturday before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer was a “soldier of the Islamic state,” according to an ISIS-linked news agency.

The statement posted online Sunday by the Amaq agency follows a pattern of ISIS-related media claiming responsibility for what appear to be the acts of individuals across Europe in the past few months.

CNN cannot independently confirm this latest claim.

Witnesses said the man, wearing a private security company uniform, entered Crossroads Mall on Saturday night, made a reference to Allah and asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he attacked, police said in a statement.

Seven of the wounded were treated and released, while one victim remains hospitalized.

None of their injuries are life-threatening, St. Cloud Police chief William B. Anderson said.

Ashley Bayne, an employee of JCPenney at the mall, was visiting a coworker at the time of the incident.

“All of sudden chaos just broke out,” she told CNN’s Nick Valencia on Sunday. “There was a bunch of people running into the JCPenney mall entrance, and they were just screaming that someone was going around the mall stabbing people, and that there was blood everywhere. It was just honestly a really scary experience.”

Bayne said she ran out to the parking lot and took off in her car.

The stabbings occurred in multiple locations inside the mall, including the common area and in several stores. The mall has security teams on site but they are not armed.
Shortly after, an off-duty officer confronted the attacker.

“The individual we believe to be responsible for the victim’s stab wounds is currently deceased inside the mall,” police said early Sunday.

While the attacker was not identified, authorities said he’d had three previous encounters with police.

Anderson said most of the encounters were for minor traffic violations. None resulted in an arrest.

Anderson declined to provide further details or say whether the attacker was a resident of St. Cloud. He said he is not ready to describe the stabbings as a terrorist attack until details such as a motive are established.

“What we know is it is a lone suspect who attacked at least eight people … whether that was a terrorist attack or not, I’m not willing to say that right now because we just don’t know,” Anderson said.The police chief said the attack had changed the city forever.

“It’s an awful day. We’ve got eight victims who were assaulted here in our mall … things wont be the same here,” Anderson said.

While the mall will be closed until further notice because it’s considered a crime scene, he said, there’s no imminent threat to the city.

“Right now, we don’t have information to indicate anyone else is involved,” he said.

St. Cloud is about 65 miles northwest of Minneapolis and has a population of 67,000.

“Honestly, last night once everything had happened it still felt unreal, it didn’t seem like something that would happen at our mall,” said Bayne, the JCPenney employee. “I’ve been a little shaky … kind of been crying about it a little bit. But it’s definitely something you think about after it happens … It’s really scary to think about and I’m … just thankful to be alive.”

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