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Mall Addition Collapses In South Minneapolis

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 25 people had to be evacuated from the Karmel Square Mall in south Minneapolis after part of a new addition collapsed to the ground below on Tuesday morning.

A third floor was being added to the top of the mall at Pillsbury Avenue and Lake Street. Power was knocked out for a short time and no one was hurt.

Crews had been working on the addition – a prayer room to make way for more stores on the second level – for two weeks.

Neighbor Raymond Hoffman heard a loud bang, ran outside and saw what was once on the top of the mall now lying on Pillsbury Avenue.

“I first thought it was a truck. Then all of a sudden the lights went out, my computer went down,” Hoffman said. “Normally this street is filled with people, and I’m glad no one underneath at that moment.”

Building owner Basim Sabri and his crew were not on site when the accident happened. Sabri says the east wall collapsed due to trusses that were not properly installed.

“We were done late last night, the guys were a little tired,” Sabri said. “The last trust was not secured to the wall, temporarily. Wind hit it, it hit the one next to it and the one next to it. That’s why you see a dominos effect.”

It wasn’t long before Sabri had his crew on the scene cleaning up the mess left behind.

“We’re going to build, man. This is … no body died, nobody got hurt, it’s all good,” he said. “You come here tomorrow, this will look much different. How is that?”

Some in the Somali community, which largely frequents the mall, question Sabri’s hiring of workers. Some believe they are not qualified to handle such a big job. But Minneapolis Police say Sabri had the necessary permits in place.

And Sabri says there is nothing substandard about his crew.

“I have my own contractors. Everybody knows what they are doing,” Sabri said. “Planes crash sometimes, accidents happen.”

He says the same crew built a much larger building close by with no problems.

Some of his tenants tell WCCO they requested the prayer room, and support Sabri in his efforts to make the Karmel Square Mall a more inviting place for the entire community.

Sabri has taken the city of Minneapolis to court in the past and has been known to start projects without permits.

This time, the permits were in place and it appears this collapse was just an accident.

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