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Dayton Calls For Tolerance After St. Cloud Mall Attack

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton said he plans to travel to St. Cloud Monday to offer support for the community following the knife attack at a mall that left nine people wounded and a suspect dead.

Authorities say the suspect, who has yet to be identified, attacked several shoppers at the Crossroads Center mall on Saturday night. Police say he mentioned Allah and asked at least one victim if they were Muslim.

"If true that [the stabbings] were motivated by religious bigotry, I condemn them even more strongly," the governor said in a press release Sunday.

The suspect was shot and killed by an off-duty Avon police officer, identified as Jason Falconer. He was shopping at the mall when chaos broke out.

Dayton said he's "deeply grateful" to Falconer for his swift response. The governor also offered his support for the nine victims, three of which were still hospitalized on Sunday. None suffered life-threatening injuries.

The governor is asking the Minnesota community to embrace tolerance.

"I ask everyone in the St. Cloud area and throughout Minnesota to rise above this atrocity and act to make religious and racial tolerance one of the ways in which Minnesotans again lead our country," Dayton said.

The FBI says it's looking at the mall attack as a possible act of terrorism.

Earlier on Sunday, an ISIS-related media outlet called the knife-wielding attacker a "soldier of the Islamic State." It's unclear, however, if the terror group planned the attack or knew about it beforehand.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement Sunday on the St. Cloud attack as well as attacks in New Jersey and New York.

"I strongly condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. I pray for all of those who were wounded, and for their families. Once again, we saw the bravery of our first responders who run toward danger to help others. Their quick actions saved lives. Law enforcement officials are working to identify who was behind the attacks in New York and New Jersey and we should give them the support they need to finish the job and bring those responsible to justice - we will not rest until that happens. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Minnesota, and this should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups. I have laid out a comprehensive plan to do that. This includes launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone wolf attackers. We also need to work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online. Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger. I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear."

Keith Downey, the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, released a statement Sunday afternoon on the attacks.

"First of all, we salute the quick and heroic actions of Officer Jason Falconer who thwarted this attack from being even worse than it was.  And as we offer our prayers for the victims, we are grateful there was no loss of life." said Downey.

"The failure of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to take the ISIS threat seriously, supported by Minnesota Democrats, is unacceptable.  It is outrageous that Minnesota Democrats continue to oppose increasing the vetting of refugees coming here from countries where ISIS is prevalent," Downey added.

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