Two people were injured Sunday night after an “interrupted theft” led to a stabbing at the Mall of America, police said — an incident that caused a wave of commotion at the mall, which was already geared up for the holiday season.
The incident took place about 6:45 p.m. Sunday in the men’s department of the Macy’s at the megamall in Bloomington, Minn.
The suspect tried to take something from a customer who had briefly left his belongings inside a first-floor fitting room, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said at a news conference.
“You know how you go into the fitting room and you change your clothes, you go out maybe to show your family?” Potts told reporters. “It sounds like what happened is, when [the customer] went out to show his family the items that he was trying on, the suspect was back in the fitting room and attempted to take some property.”
Potts added that the suspect was attempting to steal items that belonged to the customer, not things that were property of the department store.
After the customer returned to the fitting room and discovered the attempted theft, the robber pulled out a knife and stabbed the customer, police said.
One of the customer’s family members heard the altercation and intervened, also getting stabbed in the process.
Both victims were taken to a hospital with stab wounds that were not life-threatening, police said.
People who were with the victims subdued the suspect and disarmed him, the authorities said.
Police arrested 20-year-old Mahad Abdiaziz Abdirahaman of Minneapolis in the stabbings. He was being held on two counts of first-degree assault and had “superficial” injuries.
Shortly after the stabbing was reported, several police cars converged on the Macy’s, according to photos taken by local reporters.
Kim Schwieters, who was near the mall-side entrance of Macy’s with her children at the time, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that officers began yelling at other shoppers to clear the area and locked down the first floor of the department store after they arrived.
“We saw two cops running toward Macy’s,” Schwieters told the newspaper. “By the time we got to the main area — the men’s department is to the right — more police started running in with their guns drawn. My daughter could see people lying on the ground who had been stabbed.”
One of her daughters, 16-year-old Maddie Schwieters, told KARE 11 that her family was going to visit a mall Santa Claus when the incident took place.
“Usually in the mall you think, ‘Oh, someone got into a fight’ or something,” Maddie Schwieters told the news station. “You never really think something will go down that’s this horrific. The whole situation, it kind of happened so fast that you don’t really know what’s going on until someone comes past you and is like, ‘This guy has a knife. Get away.’ ”
At 5.6 million square feet, the Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the country. It recently celebrated its 25-year anniversary.
The Mall of America issued a statement Sunday confirming the incident.
“This evening during an interrupted theft inside Macy’s Mall of America, two people were stabbed and sustained non-life threatening injuries,” the statement said. “One person is in custody and Bloomington Police is conducting the ongoing investigation. Our thoughts are with the families involved.”
Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Mike Hartley told The Washington Post that as officers responded to reports of a mall stabbing, there were initial concerns it could have been similar to what took place last year in St. Cloud, Minn.
Last September, 20-year-old Dahir Adan went on a stabbing rampage at the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, about 80 miles from the Mall of America. The St. Cloud attack left 10 people injured; an off-duty police officer shot and killed Adan inside a Macy’s store.
An Islamic State-affiliated news agency claimed Adan was “a soldier of the Islamic State.” Local and federal authorities investigated the St. Cloud attack as “a potential act of terrorism” but have not linked him with any extremist groups, according to Twincities.com.
However, as details emerged Sunday, it became clear the Mall of America attack was different, Hartley said — and the department wanted that known.
“There’s nothing to indicate that it was anything more than a crime of opportunity with some property that would have been unattended at the time,” Hartley said. “One of the reasons we had a press conference was we knew there may be people who wanted to draw that parallel, especially once we released the suspect’s name. We’re not even looking down that road.”
An investigation is ongoing, police said.