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Family of victims talk about the terror in St. Cloud mall attack

The Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, Minn. was closed Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, after Saturday's stabbing incident. (Rob Beer/Forum News Service)

NELSON, Minn. -- While hundreds of people were on lockdown after a man attacked and stabbed people inside a St. Cloud mall Saturday, some area residents waited anxiously for news from relatives inside the mall.

Two of Amanda Johnson’s family members were victims of the stabbing in the Crossroads Center. One was treated and released, while the other underwent surgery and remains hospitalized, Johnson, who lives in Nelson about 65 miles northwest of St. Cloud along Interstate 94, said Sunday.

“My family is just lucky that they came out alive from this scary and senseless event, but the aftereffects of being part of something like this have got to leave some sort of trauma on a person,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the personal connection to Saturday’s attack have been a wakeup call of sorts.

“It's hard to believe in a little Midwest town that events like this are happening,” she said. “It's scary to think what the world is going to become for our children. As a mother, I’m absolutely terrified for my daughter. We must teach them and prepare them for what the world is now.”

Another of the victims was a 24-year-old man from Willmar, according to  St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis who released a list of the victims.

No names were provided. Kleis said three people remained hospitalized at St. Cloud Hospital as of 7 a.m. Sunday. The other five were treated and released, according to a St. Cloud Hospital spokesperson.

Ashlee Fultz, formerly of Alexandria and currently a St. Cloud resident, found out her mother and aunts were in Maurices in Crossroads Center when the attacks began.

“I received a Snapchat from my mom with a picture of Maurices in lockdown with their main gates closed,” she said.

Since her mother, who lives in Osakis, didn’t know much about what was happening in other parts of the mall, Fultz began researching.

“I then found information via Facebook of a guy live streaming video outside the food court with a girl providing intel from a police scanner,” she said. “I was panicked. There wasn't anything I could do but relay the new info from the news to her. It was scary watching because we had no clue as to what was happening except that there was a guy stabbing people and then to hear there was a guy with a gun.”

While in Maurices, Fultz said her mother reported that another woman, now known to be a relative of Johnson, received a call that her husband and son had been victims of the stabbing.

“It was hard to listen to the scanner talking about movement in certain areas because I wouldn't know if that meant another potential threat and then having my mom tell me she's just sitting by the area of these movements,” Fultz said. “I was very fearful and anxious for everyone.”

Both women are thankful their family members are OK, and credit the quick response of law enforcement for taking control of the situation before it escalated.

“We have to be thankful for law enforcement who go running into these terrifying events as we are all running out,” Johnson said.

About 8:15 p.m., law enforcement officials were called to the mall  in response to reports of a stabbing and shots fired.  

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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