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Police Chief Recounts Mall Attack One Year Later [VIDEO]

Rebecca David, WJON News
Rebecca David, WJON News

ST. CLOUD — It’s been one year since a man wielding a knife went on a stabbing rampage at Crossroads Center in St. Cloud. In all, 10 people were hurt before an off-duty police officer shot and killed the attacker, 20-year-old Dahir Adan.

St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson - WJON News
St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson – WJON News

WJON News spoke with St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson who recounted the events of September 17th, 2016. Anderson says he was about to start the grill that evening when his phones began ringing off the hook. From there, the chief says there’s a mental checklist which kicks in…

You immediately start going over your checklist.  Actually, my immediate thoughts were for the victims.  I asked the assistant chief to give me continuous status updates on those people that had been taken to the hospital.  I wanted to know how they were doing.

Thirteen different agencies and 126 people responded to Crossroads that night. Chief Anderson says despite the chaos, the coordinated effort went smoothly…

We train for these types of incidents.  In fact, we actually train with mall management staff, the vendors and the store owners.  So, those things didn’t give me a moment’s pause.  The folks who responded…St. Cloud Police Department personnel and all of our surrounding partners handled that as well as anyone could have expected.  In fact, they handled it better.

Anderson says it was the largest and most high profile incident response he’s ever led…

Had it gone on longer, it would have become more and more complex.  But yeah, I’d have to rank that one at the top of the list in terms of chaos, in terms of magnitude and in terms of response.

The chief lauded the professionalism of those who responded to the scene that night.  He says it made things run smoothly and allowed them to piece the events together more quickly. As for the attacker, Anderson says it’s hard not to be angry with him…

I’ll tell you this…I don’t know that attacker, but I was really pissed off at what he did. And I still am to some degree because that individual brought a lot of unnecessary anguish, grief and anxiety to a community that prides itself on being inclusive.

The biggest challenge according to Chief Anderson was dispelling all of the rumors…

No matter how transparent we were with getting the story out, you know, unfortunately with social media there were a lot of myths about what actually happened and why it happened.  I had to spend way more time than I would have liked debunking those myths.

And, Anderson says that’s why he wanted to released the surveillance video of the attacker inside the mall…

From day one I wanted that video released as soon as possible without compromising the integrity of our investigation.  So there was no question, as horrific as it was because that’s just part of being transparent.

The head of the FBI in Minneapolis says authorities may never be certain about the motive behind the stabbing attack. FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick Thornton said in February it still appeared Adan may have been radicalized.

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Governor Mark Dayton, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson speaking at a news conference following Crossroads attack - WJON News
Governor Mark Dayton, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson speaking at a news conference following Crossroads attack – WJON News

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