The off-duty police officer who fatally shot the man who had stabbed nine people in a Minnesota mall Saturday is a firearms training expert.
Jason Falconer, president and owner of the Tactical Advantage firearms training facility, fatally shot the attacker at the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud.
Officer Falconer is a part-time officer with the Avon Police Department and the former police chief of Albany, Minnesota, who happened to be in the “right place at the right time” during the attack, according to St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis. Officer Falconer fired his gun after the suspect lunged at him, the mayor said on CNN.
“Not only did he fire, the suspect went down, came back up on three different occasions,” Mr. Kleis said. “He protected others from being injured and potentially loss of life. Clearly, a hero.”
Officials said Monday that the stabbings appeared to be the work of a “lone attacker,” and federal authorities are investigating whether it was a terrorist act inspired or directed by the Islamic State.
“We haven’t uncovered anything that would suggest other than a lone attacker at this point,” St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said at a news conference with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. “If that changes, we will be transparent about that.”
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Authorities did not identify the attacker by name, and decribed him as a young Somali man who was dressed as a security guard and referred to Allah during the mall assault, reportedly asking at least one victim if they were Muslim.
But the attacker’s father, Ahmed Adan, identified him as 22-year-old Dahir A. Adan.
The motive of Saturday’s attack is still unclear, but FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Thornton has said it is being investigated as a “potential act of terrorism.” The Islamic State claimed responsibility, but it wasn’t clear whether the attacker was radicalized. Authorities were digging into his background and possible motives, looking at social media accounts and electronic devices and talking to his associates, Mr. Thornton said.
The attack in St. Cloud, a city of about 65,000 people about 65 miles from Minneapolis, began shortly after an explosion in a crowded New York City neighborhood injured 29 people. Hours before that, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a 5K race. But President Obama said Monday that authorities see no connection between the New York area explosions and the Minnesota stabbing.
All of the stabbing victims — seven men, one woman and a 15-year-old girl — have been treated for their wounds and released from hospital.
Officer Falconer, a competitive shooter and member of the United States Practical Shooters Association, has helped teach classes on law enforcement skills at St. Cloud State University for nine years, according to his biogrpahy on the Tactical Advantage website.
“Jason believes everyone can always learn something new, no matter what their expertise or discipline,” his bio states. “That is why continued education and training has been a strong personal interest of his. As a result, he has attended some of the best firearms training schools in the United States. His goal is to teach individuals the mindset, knowledge and skills needed to be successful with firearms in order to secure their personal safety or that of their family; at home or in public. As a firearm training professional, he continuously researches and develops new curriculum and training methods to make the experience for his students the best they can get.”
According to the website, the range “concentrates on firearms training for individuals in a group or private setting, including permit to carry training classes in Minnesota.”
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.