Mohamed Mohamud was a longtime neighbor of Dahir Adan’s family. He knew the family since they all lived in Fargo.
“This is a very humble family. This is a well known family both here and in North Dakota,” Mohamud said. “This is shocking to everyone.”
Jama Alimad, a St. Cloud community leader and friend of the family, said that Adan came to the U.S. when he was three months old.
"This is the most assimilated kid,” Alimad said.
He praised Adan’s academic standing in school.
“He was an A student. He was a tutor. He was employed,” he said.
Lul Hersi, a mother of four and a member of the St. Cloud Somali-American community, rushed to the mall to find out what was going on. Deep down inside, she recalls praying that the suspect was not Somali or Muslim because of the rising hate crime Somalis have experienced in the city.
Hersi said that the family of Adan and the victims are not the only ones suffering from the aftermath of the attack.
“This has happened to all of us,” Hersi said. “Let us spread love.”
Somali community soccer coach Ahmed Ali said Adan called him two nights before the mall attack to ask advice on how to lose 17 pounds.
“Dahir wasn’t a social guy. He wasn’t a friendly guy who got to know everybody. I don’t think he had a mental issue in my opinion,” Ali said. But Adan told Ali that “He was sick and tired of sitting home and eat.”
According to Ali, Adan wanted to “prepare his life.”
Ali is convinced that Adan was not a depressed young man.
“He was a happy guy.”
Although he wasn’t a great soccer player, Ali said, Adan was calm.
“He wasn’t aggressive. He was a good person. A person who dealt with people in a nice way,” he said.
Ali recalls Adan not being interested with soccer as a sport. His cousins brought him around to play soccer, Ali said.
“He was more interested with school, work and losing weight,” Ali recalls.
Hudda Ibrahim teaches diversity and social justice at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. Ibrahim also teaches Take Ten- a violence prevention program that teaches Somali-American high school students conflict resolution tactics. She said she also knows relatives of the family.
“We weren’t expecting this in St. Cloud,” Ibrahim said. “I was holding my tears. St. Cloud is a small city. We know each other. This is as good family. I know their relatives."
Unite Cloud founder and director Natalie Ringsmuth said that although she plans to push for a #choosepeace social media campaign inspired by the mall stabbing, she said she is “afraid for anyone that doesn’t look like me in this city.”
Ringsmuth and colleague Yusuf Haji are urging radio hosts, members of the community, law enforcement and outside media to put emphasis on how to unite after the attack.
But Ringsmuth is concerned about potential retaliation due to the spike of hate crimes in the city.
“I am really afraid for my Somali Muslim friends,” Ringsmuth said.
Schoolmate Barakad Omar said he never thought Adan "would do something like this."
“He was a good guy. He an American kid. He was an A-student.”