EXCLUSIVE: Citizens Gather for Vigil Three Years After St. Cloud Terrorist Attack

“On a Saturday night, September 17th 2016, our beautiful city had its 9/11.”

Although Margaret Starry does not know the victims of the Crossroads Mall terrorist attack, she honored them during a vigil on the three year anniversary of the event that changed the community forever. The victims, fellow vigil organizer and co-leader of Culture Warriors Kathleen Virnig claims, “…seem[s] to [have been] ushered into oblivion by our FBI and other city and government officials. Do not talk about this, just go quietly out of sight.”

Culture Warriors, explained fellow vigil attendee and co-leader, Helena Halverson, is “a group of people who are keenly aware of the lessons of history…” These lessons, she continued, are exactly the recipe that “led our Country to become the greatest application of the wisdom born of the Judaeo Christian Culture.” This is the spirit in which the group gathered to reflect on the victims of the terror attack that shook the community on September 17, 2016.

After the terror attack, the FBI quickly took over. It is unclear if the investigation was ever finalized.

The perpetrator Dahir Adan “…asked people if they were Muslim as he moved through the mall with two knives,” as reported at the SCTimes, When his victims responded “no,” he stabbed them. The article continues:

“The victims included seven men, a 50-year-old woman and a pregnant woman. They came from Big Lake, Willmar, Albany, Kimball, Avon and St. Cloud. Adan stabbed people in the back, shoulder, neck, head, face. They all survived. An off-duty police officer [Hero Police Officer Jason Falconer] confronted Adan and shot him dead after Adan continued to charge.”

Born in Kenya, Adan was only one year old when his Somali family brought him to Fargo in the mid-1990s. He was granted citizenship in 2008. His family moved to St. Cloud about 6 years before the attack.

Kathleen painfully observed:

This was a brutal attack of 1O innocent people who felt safe in an ordinary Mall in Central Minnesota. Who would’ve or could’ve imagined such a crazy, bloodthirsty attack would ensue on a late Saturday night? Common people, people who had things to do, had hopes to carry out, and had a totally upside-down experience in an ordinary Shopping Mall!

She continued:

So today we are trying to imagine the reality, of  these unknown victims in our small city, where people live, have families, go to Church and try to live out a good life.  We were not able to express our sorrow to them. We surely pray for them as well, since we live in a culture of religious belief. 

But there’s something rotten in these odd responses to this terrible attack on they innocent. No one knows who they are in St. Cloud, and we feel it compelling to remember them, even if we don’t know them. We feel a big whole was made in the center of our gatherings to do normal things. It’s not normal here since then, Sept 17, 2016. 

Citizens hold signs for victims of St. Cloud Mall stabbing on the three year anniversary of the terror attack 9/17/2016 (courtesy Margaret Starry)

Margaret shared her story with RAIR Foundation USA. She explains how the terror attack impacted individuals she spoke with after the attack, how it was quickly politicized by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and her hope and prayers for the victims:

Here is my story about Sept 17, 2016….

I was at home that evening and saw some news come up on my internet and was stunned that it was an attack at our own Crossroads Mall. The mall where everyone shopped. The news traveled fast but I was astonished how quickly the Somali community and CAIR showed up in the parking lot and spoke on the newscast. 


…I went to the mall afterwards and talked to some shop employees. One employee described the night the stabbing happened and how frightened she was. She said she’s had to get some medical help to sleep. I heard many clerks quit after the stabbing. It changed our mall and our town. 

I also spoke to the off duty police officer and said he was a hero. He owns a gun range and offers training and we all know he’s an expert. Thankfully he wasn’t charged with a crime when he had to shoot Dahir Adan. 

Then about 6 weeks later our Attorney General Luger and Governor Dayton both made stops in to St Cloud to make sure there was no “backlash” against the Somali “community” and if we didn’t like it, we should find another state. 

Today I gladly go to walk in prayer for the victims of this tragic event, and all religiously persecuted
people everywhere. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father can heal the wounds. He is so good! 

Kathleen added, “On a Saturday night, September 17th 2016, our beautiful city had its 9/11.”


Renee Nal

Renee Nal is an investigative journalist and documentary film producer.

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