By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis man who pleaded guilty to stabbing two brothers inside a Mall of America fitting room has learned his punishment.

Mahad Abdiaziz Abdiraham stood silently as the judge sentenced him to more than 15 years in prison — 187 months — for the November attack in Macy’s.

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Abdiraham pleaded guilty to stabbing the men — 19-year-old Alex Sanchez and 25-year-old John Sanchez — multiple times in the head, arms and back.

The incident happened at about 6:44 p.m. on Nov. 12 as Bloomington police responded to a report of a stabbing. It started as a theft that was interrupted.

Authorities said the stabbing happened in a dressing room at the Macy’s store at Mall of America. A suspect, later identified as Abdirahaman, was trying to steal belongings from one of the men in the fitting room when he was confronted. Abdirahaman then stabbed him.

Authorities say the victim’s trying to stop the initial theft and stabbing was also stabbed. One man needed 42 stitches, and the other needed a blood transfusion.

The incident forced the Macy’s store to go on lockdown.

Neither victim appeared in court, but an advocate read a statement for Alex — the most seriously injured.

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“I wake up every day and look at my face and relive the ordeal over and over and over again it will never end for me or my family members,” the statement said.

Cynthia Leon, the victims’ aunt, says the knife-wielding defendant got a slap on the hand for the crime he committed.

“Its not enough,” she said. “I see Alex. He has to live with this every single day, and this is for the rest of his life. It almost feels like he was the one who was punished.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says Abdirahman earned all 15 years of his sentence, and his confession of committing the crime for a foreign terror group wasn’t enough to pursue federal charges.

“Terrorism charges are hard to prove, and the police presented it to us,” he said. “We saw it was a serious crime. We often talk to the feds on whether we should keep the case or send it there. Our discussion here is we felt we had a very strong case, we felt because of the seriousness of the injuries, we could get a significant sentence, and we did.”

Alex Sanchez does not have full function of his left arm or cheek. His brother John has lost motion in his thumbs and has not returned to his construction job.

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Both men are recovering and will learn in 60 days the restitution Abdiraham will have to pay them for their injuries.

Reg Chapman