ST. CLOUD, Minn. – As he gazed out at the room full of dignitaries there to honor him, Jason Falconer looked like he’d rather be anywhere else.
The part-time police officer from Avon, Minn., sat stoically as two U.S. senators, a congressman and a couple of police chiefs sang his praises.
His jaw flexed rhythmically as he slowly chewed a piece of gum, and a red flush crept up his neck and into his cheeks.
Finally, Falconer stood and became the first Minnesota police officer ever to receive the Congressional Badge of Bravery.
“I kinda thought it was all said and done, and then we had this,” Falconer said as the room broke into laughter. “I’ve been avoiding the media. So, media, this is what you get. It’s over, done. We move on.”
Others weren’t quite ready to move on from Falconer’s bravery on Sept. 17, 2016, when he stopped a stabbing spree at St. Cloud’s Crossroads Center mall that left 10 people wounded.
Falconer was off duty and had gone to the mall to buy a birthday present for his son. The shopping trip ended with Falconer shooting and killing Dahir Adan as Adan advanced on him with a steak knife in each hand.
Falconer’s action “is the definition of bravery,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
“This is a fitting award for the brave acts of a humble guy like you,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.
The award was established by Congress in 2008 to honor exceptional acts of bravery by law enforcement. Falconer also was named Officer of the Year in 2016 by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.
Adan terrorized the mall that September night. Wearing the uniform from his job as a security guard, he hacked his way through the shopping center with a knife in each hand, leaving 10 people wounded and bleeding.
Victims said he shouted “Allahu akbar,” an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great,” and asked if they were Muslim before stabbing them.
The final moments of Adan’s life were captured on security cameras as he repeatedly charged Falconer, who had pulled his weapon and confronted the attacker. The videos show Adan lunging, falling, advancing again and eventually crawling across a bloodied floor toward Falconer with six bullets in his body and a knife still visible in his hand.
The terrorist group ISIS hailed Adan as “a soldier of the Islamic state” after his death, and an official ISIS magazine listed the St. Cloud attack among its U.S. “operations.” Yet recently unsealed FBI investigative files showed that authorities have not found contacts between Adan and operatives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“I believe God put you there,” St. Cloud police chaplain Chris Cortte told Falconer, quoting from the biblical Book of Joshua: “Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous?”