Knife Attack in Saint Cloud: Terrorism, Racism, Guns

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From WCCO:

An Islamic State-run news agency claims the man who stabbed and wounded eight people at a mall in Minnesota before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer was a “soldier of the Islamic State.”

Original Post:
We know nearly nothing about the Saint Cloud attack, but I’m going to offer some preliminary context-related thoughts anyway. Not conclusions or guesses, just context. (See below for some basic info on the attack.)

One thing you need to know is that Minnesota is a state with the least racist and most socially and culturally enlightened people in it. And, some of the most racist and anti-civilization people in it. Saint Cloud is, essentially, the capital of the latter subculture, a very racist place. This is Michele Bachmann territory.

This is one reason to be really careful about drawing conclusions about what happened there. When I hear “Saint Cloud,” “Stabbing Attack,” “Asked if Muslim,” and “Said Allah” all in the same report, my best guess is that a local Islamophobe tried to kill or injure recently immigrated Somalis (of which there are some) in Saint Cloud.

Gun nuts will point out that this is a case of a “good guy with a gun” doing some good. It is. But, the “good guy with a gun” was a cop. So, really, this is a cop stopping an attack. Meanwhile, apparently, the attacker did not do a lot of damage to others, because, it seems, he wasn’t using a gun. He was using a knife. So, no, “you could do the same thing (as some guy with a gun) with a knife or a piece of string therefore GUN FREEDOM!!!1!!” is not an argument.

If this does turn out to be an attack BY a Muslim on others in Saint Cloud, I suspect there will be white rage turned into violence soon in that community and nearby places such as Little Falls and Big Lake.

Report from the New York Times:

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Eight people were injured during a stabbing attack at a Minnesota shopping mall that ended with the suspected attacker — who was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah — shot dead by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.

…eight people were taken to St. Cloud Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following the attack first reported about 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the Crossroads Center. One person was admitted. …

… an off-duty police officer… shot and killed the unidentified suspect, who was armed with a knife and wearing a private security firm uniform …

Local police had three previous encounters with the suspect, most for minor traffic violations…

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55 thoughts on “Knife Attack in Saint Cloud: Terrorism, Racism, Guns

  1. Not there, but of course they had to shoot him, preventing any way of finding out from him the motivation for the attack.

  2. I think it is great that a cop stopped this attack.

    I just wish all of the 8 (now I hear 9) people knifed had a permit to carry and had stopped him earlier.

    Best case scenario – the first person he tried to knife stopped the attack.

    I predict a pop in small conceal carry handgun sales in Minnesota as a result of this attack.

    Thank goodness for the 2nd Amendment.

  3. Scenario: One of the 9 people knifed had a permit to carry, pulled out his gun and started firing. Three innocent bystanders were hit, one dead on the scene, one died in the hospital the next morning, and one is paralyzed for the rest of his life.

    Damn the mis-interpretations and mis-applications of the 2nd Amendment !

  4. Brainstorms:

    Yes – that could happen.

    That fact has nothing to do with a mis-interpretation or mis-application of the 2nd amendment.

    It looks like these random attacks will be increasing in the years to come.

    So it would behove those who obtain a permit to carry to learn to shoot and learn how to shoot in a crowd.

    It could prove to be very valuable training.

    Did the cop hit any bystanders?

  5. Scenario:

    One of the men (or women even) accosted pulls out a small spray can (not even Mace; any number of over-the-counter things will disable someone when sprayed in their eyes.) and used it.

    Then some of the brave bystanders could have grabbed arms and legs and put the guy down. First you grab the knife hand and start breaking fingers. Start with the pinkie– it doesn’t take a lot of strength. Or, pull out your own knife and use it as lethally as you like.

    Of course, the flaw in my plan is that people in the US are Weenies of the first order. They yammer on on line about the Second Amendment, but they would crap in their pants at the first encounter with real violence. (Yes, that’s for you, RickA, along with all the other tough-guy wannabees.)

    But, it would have the advantage that it will not be Brainstorm’s scenario where other people get hurt. We need to make active response a reflex, even (if tactically appropriate) when the attacker has a gun.

  6. “Did the cop hit any bystanders?”

    There are two possibilities for that comment:

    a) The writer is too stupid to realize that a police officer should have more training with his/her firearm than the typical concealed carry civilian, and that training is responsible for more calm under fire

    b) The writer is too dishonest to admit that he knows it, so is trying to deflect rational thought in favor of a preferred point

    Given the well-documented history of both the author’s willingness to lie and his utter lack of capability to understand things, assigning ‘a’ and ‘b’ equal probability and viewing the post as motivated by a mixture of them is the logical choice.

  7. Learn how to shoot in a crowd?

    I predict a big uptick in sales of mace.

    There won’t be an uptick in sales of guns in Minnesota because we have had so many of those in recent years, everybody who wants a gun has a gun.

    I have no doubt that if everybody had a gun, this crime would have been stopped sooner. I’m reminded of the good old days when Jesse James and his gang tried tried to rob the bank in Nothfield, Minnesota. The bank was invested in by a former General who had been favorable to civil rights, etc., which annoyed these outlaws.

    The robbers were stationed all over, by the bank doors, elsewhere outside, and inside the bank. One of them pulled out a gun and announced “this is a robbery.”

    The good citizens of Northfield took up arms against the robbers. There was a big gun fight. The robbery was stopped, some of the robbers were killed, some eventually arrested, some escaped.

    Two non-robbers were killed, one possibly by “friendly fire” (no one knows where that bullet came from .. .he was just a guy standing down the street) and one was wounded.

    Those were the days!

    But …

    A) Everybody in those days knew how to use their guns.

    B) The guns were different, no automatic, few semi-automatic.

    C) Since those days we’ve gone ahead and socialized security, so we have things like police forces and stuff.

    D)Those were the days after the Civil War when lots of Americans carried around guns, and the national homicide rate reached over 30 per 100K per annum. Our current homicide rate is less than 5 per 100K per annum.

    See, it isn’t just what the guys can do with the guns they have now. It is what our entire society has to endure because monsters like RickA want everyone to walk around armed all the time.

    Fuck. That.

  8. It’s all been said, but in the spirit of Johnny-come-lately, the only thing more dangerous than a nutter with a knife in a crowd is half a dozen panic-stricken weenies* blazing away with handguns.

    *Lately, I seem to be in agreement with zebra all the time. Just goes to show.

  9. One in eight people should be armed with a gun. They should each wear a t-shirt that says “try to stab me first.”

    That would work.

  10. Provided those “one in eight” are police officers, off-duty peace officers, military members, national guard, or members of an organized and disciplined militia…

  11. This event took place in a shopping mall.

    Scenario: The attacker made his first move outside a sporting goods store. The man he attacked ran into the store, grabbed a baseball bat, ran back, and cold-cocked the attacker with it.

    Also works with a golf club, a canoe paddle, even a hockey stick.

  12. Scenario: The attacker made his first move outside an art supplies store. The young woman he attacked ran into the store, grabbed a can of spray paint, and blinded him with it.

  13. Scenario: The attacker made his first move outside a white goods store. The man he attacked ran into the store, grabbed a bath towel, and fended off the attacker by snapping it at his face until the police showed up.

  14. Scenario: The attacker made his first move outside a grocery store. A woman had just pulled a shopping cart from the line of carts. She used it to keep him away, and so saved herself.

  15. Scenario: The attacker made his first move outside a MacDonald’s. The woman he approached had just bought a large cup of coffee. She threw this in his eyes, causing him to drop the knife and clutch his face in pain. A man kicked the knife away, and several others held the attacker until police arrived.

  16. Yes, all of these are somewhat unlikely — but they are far from impossible. My point is that if you keep your cool, there are things you can do to defend yourself against a single attacker wielding a knife.

    An attacker with a gun, of course, is much more of a problem.

  17. dean:

    If cops can be trained to hopefully cut down on bystanders being hit when firing in a crowed place, than regular civilians could also benefit from the same training.

    That was my point.


    I probably would be crapping in my pants.

    But I would rather be defending myself with a handgun with crap in my pants than have a knife versus a knife, or no weapon at all. It is because I am such a wimp that I want superiority of weapons if I am attacked.

    Tell me – with what sounds like your much greater experience, what is easier to learn – how to knife fight or how to shoot an attacker coming at you with a knife? Go ahead and assume crap in the pants under both hypos.

  18. “That was my point.”

    I don’t believe you for a second – you’ve never been that direct – but if it was, that isn’t the status of people with carry license.

    it’s worth pointing out that the person who shot the attacker wasn’t simply (or even, it isn’t clear) an off duty officer, he was highly trained:
    “USPSA Shooter, 3-Gunner, and NRA-certified firearms instructor Jason Falconer”

    A typical civilian is not going to have that training.

    I’m sure you’ll continue your (at best) misleading and (more commonly) dishonest comments.

  19. dean:

    I am advocating for more training for the typical civilian.

    So the typical civilian’s skills are better than they are now.

    Surely you are not against that!

  20. I don’t think regular citizens have the time, and may not have the ability in many cases, for such training.

    Remember that cops are not actually randomly picked form the citizenry. After passing basic qualifications, they go through police academy. Not the movie with OJ Simpson, but actual cop school. They have to qualify on firearms, and requalify regularly. As methods and approaches to minimizing unintended consequences, or being more effective, arise, they are caught up on that. This is a major things that cops do.

    The idea that “if cops can learn this, regular citizens can learn this” is way, way wrong.

  21. Greg:

    Your points are well taken.

    And still – regular citizens who have a permit to carry and are carrying would be safer to bystanders if they had additional training.

    Since it seems probable that many more citizens will be attacked (St. Cloud, The Pulse, and other examples) it couldn’t hurt for those citizens who wish to to obtain additional training on using a firearm in a crowd (say a mall).

    Is there anything really to disagree with in my point?

  22. Based on what dean quoted above, it seems we were very lucky indeed with the level of training and skill this person had.

    Still – given some of the latest police shootings, it seems even the police could stand a bit more training on shooting while afraid or under adrenaline.

    So I would advocate more training for police (more on when not to shoot) and more volunteer training for civilians (on shooting in a crowd).

    Just my opinion.

  23. BBD:

    I don’t think you get it.

    Ordinary civilians are allowed to carry guns in public.


    How can they stop it? Are you proposing trying to make it illegal for a civilian to take a voluntary course on shooting a firearm in a crowd? Good luck with getting that law passed.

    You seem under the misapprehension that I want this training to be mandatory and part of getting the permit to carry. Of course, a State could pass such a law – but I am merely talking about a civilian taking additional training all on their own – if they want – voluntarily.

  24. RickA 17,

    You miss the point of my comment completely.

    How you can best defend yourself is a matter of the specific circumstance. You are imagining being trapped in an alley by a big young thug at two in the morning– sure, gun is better than a knife for you. If you spend time in alleys in the wee hours, in rough parts of town, maybe you should carry.

    But let’s put aside your Hollywood fantasies and get back to the “public space” situation which is the topic. The kind of attack in that case could easily be stopped as I described earlier. If I had a gun in such an instance I would hesitate to intervene, but I would readily employ a chemical spray if I saw someone being attacked with a knife. Not much training needed at all, no risk of killing bystanders, and not likely to be mistaken for the terrorist by actual cops arriving on the scene.

    What’s not to like about that alternative?

    Self defense is not so much about physical ability and weapons, but rather situational awareness and understanding of the dynamics– time and distance and stuff like that. It’s what you “see” when your adrenaline starts to kick in, and how calm you can remain. And, as you point out yourself, even lots of cops panic with a gun in their hands. (Hunters experience a version called Buck Fever.)

    So in a public space like a mall, even if you are the target of the assailant, how much is a gun going to help you? A guy in a security guard uniform walks up to you, the knife is behind his back– what’s your plan, Rick? How close will you allow a security guard to get to you before you shoot? How about someone in a Santa Claus suit? It just doesn’t make sense.

  25. I don’t think you get it.

    Ordinary civilians are allowed to carry guns in public.

    Not in all States and perhaps not in any, eventually.

    Fucking stupid laws get changed, sometimes.

  26. What hollywood fantasy?

    I am merely putting myself into the shoes of one of the 9 (now 10) people attacked at the mall in St. Cloud.

    Sure – if you have mace – you could use that.

    If you have a knife – you could use that.

    If you have no weapon- you can run or dodge, or get stabbed.

    There are lots of things you could try to defend yourself (or not).

    I was merely positing the situation that it would have been nice if one of the 10 happened to be carrying, and stopped this before 10 people got stabbed (preferably without any bystanders getting hurt).

    As to how close I would let the guard get – pretty damn close if I was the first victim – presumably further away if I was the 2nd or subsequent victim.

    No different for the Santa.

    But this really happened.

    It could happen again.

    No point in pretending it might not happen again, anywhere in the country.

    This is why the number of permit to carry or conceal carry permits have increased so much over the last 15 years.

    It is not just crime you have to watch out for now – but terrorism.

  27. BBD:

    Every state in the United States has some form of conceal carry (eight states do not even require a permit).

    So ordinary citizens are carrying in public in all 50 states.

  28. “This is why the number of permit to carry or conceal carry permits have increased so much over the last 15 years.”

    The large drivers are
    – people are incredibly bad at judging actual risk
    – people are urged to be incredibly bad at judging risk thanks to the scum who continue to harp, in face of reality, that crime is climbing out of control and is at unprecedented levels
    – people who continue to say, against all data, that people with guns prevent huge numbers of crimes

  29. RickA,

    You asked my opinion and then ignored my reply.

    In the mall situation, a gun is the least useful.

    More citizens who understand the basics of self-defense, are willing to attack the attacker, and have low-tech “weapons” that don’t require training and don’t actually inhibit use (which firearms do for the reasons cited) would be the best solution to future attacks of this nature.

    You did not answer my question– why wouldn’t you prefer that someone would intervene in a way that is safer for all concerned (except the terrorist)?

  30. zebra:

    Sorry – your question was not apparent to me from your earlier post.

    Of course, if there is a safer way to intervene – that would be my preference.

    In the actual events – from what I understand – none of the 10 injured intervened. It took someone with a gun to stop this terrorist.

    Perhaps if Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee had been there, things might have been different.

    Perhaps an expandable baton or a cane might have been used to stop this terrorist – but it was a gun which stopped him.

    In this instance – a gun turned out to be very useful.

    That is why the 2nd amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms – sometimes they are useful. Sometimes other things are useful and less lethal. It is all very situational – but it seems to me that this well trained officer did the right thing (from what little I have read).

  31. We are now learning more about the police officer who shot the St. Cloud stabber.

    He was an exceptional case. He trains police officers in responding under pressure, in crowds, focusing on firearms — he is a kind of specialist firearms instructor.

    He is, in essence, the Special Forces, James Bond, Superhero version of a “good guy with a gun” far beyond anyone else’s ability, who happened to be on the scene.

    Translating his highest end ability in this sort of situation to the average individuals, assuming the average gun toting citizen can have these skills, is dangerously delusional. Looking at you, RickA.

    Now you know.

    It was not a gun that turned out to be useful. It was a highly trained gun-under-stress-in-a-crowd specialist with a gun that turned out to be useful.

  32. So ordinary citizens are carrying in public in all 50 states.

    Legislative capture by the US gun industry has progressed further than I realised.

  33. Greg,

    Your point is well taken as a rhetorical counterpoint to “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. However, I am concerned that we not reinforce the adolescent mindset displayed by Rick:

    “What Hollywood fantasy?” followed by a reference to “Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.” Sigh…

    We don’t need superhero cops to stop someone like this. We don’t need to feed the fantasy that all of these attackers are ninja assassins, and everyone must cower in terror and plead for their lives. This was some kid with a knife, and he could have been stopped by two fit young men even without extensive training or the types of weapons I have described.

    The NRA sales pitch works because of the Hollywood fantasy. In fact, it is antithetical to the scenario you described earlier of townspeople working in concert to stop the bank robbers, and to the original sense of “militia”.

  34. Zebra, good point.

    But to reiterate: The concept that because an off duty cop managed to kill a bad guy while injuring no one else is NOT evidence that every average citizen can do this, not just because that is a stupid idea, but especially because this particular off duty cop was actually an off duty Nija Warrior Sensei.

  35. Greg – I never said this feat was evidence that every average citizen could do it.

    I said it would behoove people with a permit to carry to get more training on shooting in a crowd (since it will likely become more common).

    5% of Minnesotans have a permit to carry.

    But none of them will ever be able to do what this off duty cop did.

    Nor should they even try to get better trained.

    Got it Greg.

  36. RickA You said:

    If cops can be trained to hopefully cut down on bystanders being hit when firing in a crowed place, than regular civilians could also benefit from the same training.

    And the response to that, from everyone, was no, that is not likely to work. I added, when we learned more about this particular cop, that the event in St. Cloud is an especially bad example of how regular civilians could be trained for this.

    Since you made that remark you’ve been backing off, back pedaling, etc. so you clearly accept the fact that you were wrong.

  37. Greg:

    Nope – not backing off at all.

    I stand by my statement that regular civilians who have a permit to carry could use additional training on firing in a crowd.

    The simple – know your target and whats beyond won’t cut it in a mall (in my opinion).

    But it is ok with me if your opinion is that regular civilians cannot learn how to shot better in a crowd, or even that additional training is desirable.

    It is a free country – and you can believe what you want.

  38. RickA

    I stand by my statement that regular civilians who have a permit to carry could use additional training on firing in a crowd.

    They’ll still be a liability-multiplier in an actual incident. They’re still civilians, just as you are still a fantasist.

  39. I guess RickA just hopes that the gun-carrying civilian isn’t shot by another gun-carrying civilian who sees the first one shoot someone else, and considers him a threat…

  40. Will anyone mention that the mall is/was a “gun free zone”?

    How did that potentially impact the assailant’s decision to assault people?

    Should the off-duty cop “superhero” be charged with a crime for his disobedience?

  41. ron, police officer, on or off duty, and some others, I believe, can have firearms in gun free zones in MN.

    Not sure of the details, but I think he was legal.

  42. Greg and Ron:

    If the mall was a gun free zone, that would prevent regular civilians with a permit to carry from having a gun in the mall.

    However, the Minnesota law doesn’t apply to police officers – just permit to carry folks.

    So I think Greg is right.

  43. That’s probably the only time you’ll EVER hear RickA admit that Greg is right.

    I’m going to have my monitor bronzed to commemorate it.

  44. I assume he’s a superhero because of his amazing amount of training?…

    He owns a firing range and firearms training facility called Tactical Advantage. He’s considered an expert in firearms training and education and has helped teach classes on law enforcement skills at St. Cloud State University for nine years, his company website says.

    Falconer was the former police chief of Albany, Minnesota. Now, he works as a part-time officer with the Avon Police Department. ENDQUOTE

    So, he trains people who are cops and others who are not cops…but some believe that only those with the government paycheck are capable of proper firearm safety in public?

  45. ron:

    Yes – dean pointed out his high level of training at #18.

    My main point on this thread, was that more and more people are obtaining permits to carry.

    Given that, it would behoove those people to obtain additional training in firing in a crowd (in case that came up).

    Some people on this thread have a different opinion than me on this issue – and that is their right.

    I don’t expect everybody to agree with me.

    But I do think it is possible for a regular civilian to learn more about how to use a firearm safely in a crowd (or a place with more people than a deer hunting situation).

    I only had to fire 30 bullets to obtain my permit to carry – 15 at 10 meters and 15 at 15 meters. I was shooting at a target.

    That is it.

    Even a 2nd amendment guy like me, who believes in the right to keep and bear arms, would not feel comfortable just blasting away with a weapon with lots of people around.

    However, if I happened to be standing around in a public space (like a street or parking lot) and saw a person knife 10 individuals, one after the other, with no end of victims in sight – I might feel obligated to try to stop that person from continuing to stab more individuals.

    Maybe I would just run away – like others – but maybe I might pull out a gun and try to save other people from getting stabbed.

    In that instance, it might be nice to have done more than fire 30 bullets at a firing range and have some advice on how to shoot so you don’t accidentally kill innocent bystanders.

    Based on the tenor of this thread – I think many here would prefer that even if a person with a weapon and a permit to carry were right at the scene – and police were many minutes away – they would prefer that such an individual simply run away – so as not to use a weapon which they feel the person should not have in the first place.

    I reserve the right to disagree.

  46. Rick,
    Additional (proper) training is always desirable. As everything else in life, its a trade-off between time/currency and skill set increase.
    The question becomes where does government properly draw the line of Justice regarding people carrying and utilizing these weapons. And should those who attain certain levels of training and/or obtain a government paycheck are held to a higher or lower standard than others.

  47. ron:

    Good question.

    I think the same standard as others.

    The cop in Tulsa was charged with a crime.

    I suspect if a regular citizen had made the same shot, they too would be charged with a crime – and that seems fair.

    It is pretty clear that you are not allowed to shoot someone for not following instructions, unless there is a danger to someone.

    Even if the window was open (in dispute) – reaching into a car is not enough (in my opinion) to put someone into reasonable fear of gross bodily harm (whether a cop or a regular citizen).

    So the same criminal laws apply to the police as they do to the regular citizen.

    An argument could be made that the standards should be a little higher for police and SWAT – but they should be at least the same level.

  48. (many grammar errors in 51)
    I’m a pro gunner. I’m as pro-2A as they come

    You and I both know that the riots and the unrest today has come about because there have been too many costumed officials who have made the excuse that cops gotta “make it home” every night. Therefore, officer safety has frequently trumped the concept of de-escalation and made concepts like “furtive movement” a household topic. We now live in an era of “Comply or Die”, and that is a lower standard for the officer, while expecting much of the citizenry.

    This behavior pattern is anything but “heroic” and often cops are treated as “superheroes”/unquestionable instead of being held to a very high standard.

    See Tamir Rice…see Crawford WalMart case…See Ray Tensing / DuBose…and that’s just in Ohio!

  49. ron #53:

    I agree and see your point.

    I will say that being a cop is a very tough job and I can see why they are scared 1/2 the time.

    But I do think that they need to hold off on pulling the trigger a bit longer in these ambiguous situations.

    Remember the social worker laying on the ground with his hands up, who got shot in the leg. There was no excuse for that. Somebody just pulled the trigger by mistake or reflexively when startled. I am afraid more training on when not to shoot is in order for our nations police.

  50. Trevor Noah recognizes that “gun free zones” don’t work…

    As to the cops being ‘Heroes”? Heroes don’t shoot until they have to, right? Heroes don’t kill innocents, yeah? Heroes don’t wear armor and claim to be in fear of their lives, do they? Heroes don’t claim special legal rights, in the stories I have been told. Heroes don’t withhold video evidence of their acts or wait for a few days before making official statements for the investigators. If you want to have multiple summer parades for these “Heroes”, shouldn’t they perform like heroes? RANTOFF

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