Officer Jason Falconer, Avon Minnesota Police Department
It is with great honor and pride that the National Rifle Association recognizes Officer Jason F. Falconer, of the Avon Minnesota Police Department, for his valor, heroism and quick, life-saving actions by naming him the 2016 National Rifle Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
On the evening of September 17, 2016, Officer Jason Falconer was off duty in plain clothes at the Crossroads Mall, co-located in the City of St. Cloud and City of Waite Park.
While shopping, Officer Falconer's attention was drawn to two loud, sharp noises and saw some shoppers running and screaming. An individual dressed in a security uniform then walked up to him and asked him if he was Muslim. Officer Falconer answered no. As the individual turned, Officer Falconer could see that he had a large knife in each hand. Without hesitation for his personal safety, Officer Falconer immediately drew his concealed off-duty handgun, announced he was a police officer, and ordered him to drop the knives.
Unbeknownst to Officer Falconer, the subject had started a stabbing spree outside the mall, where he had asked numerous shoppers if they were Muslim, and if not, assaulted them, shouting "Allah Akbar." The suspect then entered the mall and continued stabbing 10 shoppers in all and punching many others in the head, back, neck and face. There was so much chaos that after-action reports showed that 95 separate 911 emergency calls came into the emergency communications center.
Rather that dropping the knives, the knifeman turned and ran through the mall and into a crowded major department store with Officer Falconer in pursuit. The suspect abruptly turned, stopped, and then laid down as instructed by Officer Falconer. Seeing that the knifeman had not dropped the knives, Officer Falconer kept ordering him to do so. Just as abruptly as the suspect had stopped, he jumped up and charged at Officer Falconer with the knives.
Coming under immediate attack, Officer Falconer fired his off-duty handgun several times at the suspect while backing up to create distance between them. Officer Falconer fell down briefly, and the knifeman fell after being struck, but he did not drop the knives.
Witnesses confirm that Officer Falconer continued to issue commands to the attacker to stay down and drop the knives, identifying himself as an off-duty officer verbally and by displaying his police badge while he kept the knifeman covered at gunpoint.
Just as the incident seemed to be over, the knifeman suddenly rolled off of the floor and began moving between clothing racks, circling as Officer Falconer continued to order him to drop the knives and get down. Instead, the suspect charged, with Officer Falconer firing additional rounds at him head-on. The suspect turned and walked backwards towards the officer, acting as though the rounds could not strike him if he was not facing the officer.
Surveillance videos and witnesses confirmed that, after several more hits, the knifeman fell to the floor on his stomach, only to get up on his hands and knees and crawl towards Officer Falconer with a knife in hand. The knifeman finally dropped face down, and Officer Falconer moved to a position to block the knifeman from the open area of the mall until responding police arrived.
Officer Falconer's heroic actions under the most stressful and confusing circumstances while off duty ended a crazed knifeman's melee, clearly saving lives and stopping the severe injury of countless innocent shoppers. His actions are a credit to himself, his department, and the community he serves and are in keeping with the highest traditions of law enforcement.