Victim: Mall attacker emotionless; leaders urge ‘rise above’
ST. CLOUD, MINN. >> One of the victims wounded in a stabbing at a central Minnesota mall says the man who carried out the attack showed no emotion and his eyes looked blank.
Ryan Schliep, one of 10 people who suffered wounds that were not life-threatening before the attacker was fatally shot, told WCCO-TV that the man “just walked right at me” before striking quickly and penetrating the skin of his scalp.
“He looked just blank in the eyes like he wasn’t even there,” Schliep said shortly before being released from a St. Cloud hospital.
Authorities are treating Saturday’s stabbings at Crossroads Center Mall as a possible act of terrorism, in part because an Islamic State-run news agency claimed 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.
But it wasn’t immediately known whether the extremist group had planned the attack or knew about it beforehand. St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said Monday the attack appeared to be the work of a single individual and there was no sign that the attacker, identified by his father as 20-year-old Dahir Adan, was radicalized or communicated with any terrorist group.
President Barack Obama said the stabbings had no apparent connection to weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Because Adan was Somali, leaders of the state’s large Somali community acknowledged the prospect of a “long winter” for their people after the stabbings, but warned not to quickly accept the terrorism connection.
“We cannot give ISIS and other terrorist organizations more air time and propaganda without real facts,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Minnesota chapter.
Little is known about Adan, who was identified Sunday by his father, Ahmed Adan. He had only a traffic ticket on his record, was apparently out of work after his job as a part-time security guard ended and hadn’t enrolled in college since the spring semester. Adan was wearing a security guard’s uniform during the attack.
A spokesman for the family, Abdi Wahid Osman, read from a statement expressing condolences for the injured and anyone else who was impacted.