On Saturday night a Somali terrorist with links to ISIS and wearing a security guard uniform entered the Sears store in the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and began attacking unsuspecting shoppers with a knife. Before the spree ended, he had attacked nine people, asking some of them beforehand if they were Muslims.
Leaving the Sears store, Dahir Adan, whom authorities initially identified only as a former St. Cloud State University student, headed for Macy’s to continue his rampage.
Jason Falconer, an off-duty police officer and owner of Tactical Advantage, a firearms training company, was shopping at Macy’s when he saw Adan heading his way. After identifying himself as a law-enforcement officer, Falconer ordered Adan to the ground. David Unze, a reporter for the St. Cloud Times, took it from there:
The suspect got down [and] almost immediately … lunged at Falconer with the knife.
Falconer fired once, and the suspect went down. He got up and lunged at Falconer, who shot him again. The suspect then tried again to lunge at Falconer who fired a third shot that killed the suspect.
When the last shot was fired, the suspect was so close to Falconer that Falconer was falling backwards as the suspect came at him.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis called Falconer a hero:
As somebody who has had the chance to witness the surveillance tape in Macy’s and witnessed what he did, he clearly prevented additional injuries and potentially loss of life. His heroic actions are exemplary.
Falconer, upon retiring from police work in 2003, started his own company to respond to increasing demands for firearms training as citizens sought to obtain concealed carry permits. But Falconer doesn’t just offer training sufficient to obtain a permit. Wrote Falconer: “Although civilian and law enforcement students can obtain great firearms training from various sources, they are missing a key ingredient in their personal safety training [if they fail to take] reality-based training.” His company’s website expanded on the themes of awareness and readiness:
[Falconer's] 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.
There are several takeaways from the Minnesota attack and its resolution. First is awareness. Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali community, numbered conservatively at 40,000 with others claiming that it’s vastly larger. More than 20 local Somalis have left the state since 2007 and returned to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab, a jihadist terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization al-Qaeda. Another dozen or so have left in recent years to join similar militants operating in Syria. At present nine local Somalis face sentencing on terror charges for planning to join the Islamic State group.
Second, although no link appears at present directly tying the knife-wielding attacker to the bombings in New York, it’s reasonable to assume that they all operate under the same theology: America is the Great Satan and must either surrender to Islam, or die.
Third, five minutes elapsed between the first 911 call from the mall on Saturday night and the confrontation that ended in the death of the attacker.
It’s no longer safe to assume that shopping in a mall is risk-free, especially in light of increasing numbers of attacks by terrorists. There is, in other words, no more “condition white” mindset for those wishing to remain alive and healthy. As Tom Givens noted in his helpful “States of Awareness, the Cooper Color Codes,”
In Condition White one is unaware, not alert, oblivious. This state can be characterized as “daydreaming” or “preoccupied”. People in White tend to walk around with their heads down, as if watching their own feet. They do not notice the impending danger until it literally as them by the throat.
Condition Yellow, on the other hand, at least gives one a chance of surviving:
This is a heightened state of alertness, with a specific focal point. The entire difference between Yellow and Orange is this specific target for your attention. Your focal point is the person who is doing whatever drew your attention to him.
It might be the fact that he is wearing a field jacket in August. It might be that he's standing by a column in the parking garage, instead of going into the building, or getting in a car and leaving. It might be that you have been in five stores at the mall, and saw this same guy in every one of them.
His actions have caused you to take note of him, so you must assess him as a potential threat.
It’s beyond the scope of these comments to move into a discussion of Condition Red and the tripping of the “mental trigger” that might lead to a similar “resolution” as that provided by the off-duty hero at the mall in St. Cloud on Saturday night. Here’s the link to that discussion.