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Hero Cop Was 'Right Person at Right Place' for Minnesota Stabbing Victims

by Melanie Kucera, Daniella Silva and Safia Samee Ali /  / Updated 
Image: Crossroads Center mall reopened after a stabbing Saturday night
A view outside the Crossroads Center mall that reopens today has been closed since Saturday night when a man entered and stabbed nine people on Sept. 19, 2016 in St Cloud, Minnesota. The FBI is investigating the knife attacks as "a potential act of terrorism." Nine people were injured by an attacker who was killed inside the Macy's store by an off-duty Avon police officer.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

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Timing and courage are the perfect ingredients to make a hero.

An off-duty cop was "the right person, at the right place, and at the right time" when he managed to end a bloody terror rampage at a Minnesota mall, authorities said Monday.

The officer, identified as Jason Falconer, fatally shot an individual after he stabbed nine people in what authorities are investigating as a potential act of "terrorism" at the Crossroads Mall on Saturday.

"I believe there was divine intervention. I think he is the person that had to be there to prevent it from being worse than it was," said Avon Police Chief Corey Nellis at a press conference.

IMAGE: Avon, Minn., police Officer Jason Falconer
Avon Police Officer Jason FalconerAvon, Minn., Police Department

Nellis described Falconer as "heroic" but added that "he too is a victim in this situation."

"I ask everyone to give Officer Falconer the time and space that he needs to process the terrible events of Saturday night," Nellis said.

Falconer is a part-time police officer for the city of Avon and was the former police chief in Albany, Minnesota.

He also owns a firing range and firearms training facility where he teaches "decision shooting" to law enforcement students at St. Cloud State University, according to the Associated Press.

One of the victims, of the knife attack, Isaiah Mordal, was standing at the entryway of the mall when the attacker came towards him and stabbed him in the shoulder.

"I begged him you know don't kill me. Please don't do this. I don't know why are you are doing this but you don't have to," Mordal said. "I just kept screaming someone call 911 someone call 911 there's somebody in the mall stabbing people and everybody just kind of panicked running around screaming I was yelling at co-workers and other shoppers to get out of the mall, get cover because there was somebody stabbing people in the mall."

Of the ten victims, none suffered life-threatening injuries.

The attacker's identity has not been confirmed by law enforcement, but various sources, including leaders of the local, large Somali community, have said he was of Somalian heritage.

Read more: Nine Hurt in Minnesota Mall Knife Attack, Suspect Killed

Questions surrounding the attack are mounting as authorities are investigating the stabbings as a potential act of terrorism.

While an ISIS affiliated media outlet has claimed the attacker “was a soldier of the Islamic State,” there is no evidence suggesting any foreign group had any direct hand in the planning or execution of the attack.

The city's police chief said the man reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if he or she was Muslim before attacking.

The news hit Minnesota’s Muslim community especially hard. "The central Minnesota Somali community is in distress, and we are afraid of the consequences of this incident," said Mohamoud Mohamed, executive director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization. said at a news conference.

Image: People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall between Macy's and Target as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident on Sept. 17, 2016, in St. Cloud, Minn.Dave Schwarz / St. Cloud Times via AP

A report by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security last year showed that Minnesota produced the largest amount of individuals who “left the country to fight with terrorists” and “sought to become foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.”

Of the sample fifty-eight cases reviewed by the committee’s task force, a whopping twenty-six percent were from Minnesota. New York came in second with less than half, faring at twelve percent.

Related: Were New York, Minnesota Attacks Open-Source Jihad?

"We are all shocked just like you, and we are all grieving just like you," said Jaylani Hussein, Minnesota executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations. "We are concerned about the potential for backlash."

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