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Jatani Boru, a respiratory therapist in St. Paul, took a friend visiting from New Hampshire to the mall on May 25, 2009, where they shot video of a large entrance and the mall’s vast interior.
During a later interview, Boru, who became a U.S. citizen during the 1990s and is now 45 years old, said the whole thing was innocent. But according to documents, mall security told the Bloomington police that the video “did not appear to be anything a normal tourist would be interested in.”
They say the two men, who are Ethiopian, videotaped the “structural support” of the Log Chute water ride in Nickelodeon Universe, as well as the amusement park’s expansive glass ceilings and roof supports. Mall guards drew up a detailed map showing where the two men traveled in the mall.
The officers eventually decided to approach the pair, according to a report. They asked a series of questions. Where are you from? What are you here at the mall to see? How long have you known each other? Which bus company did you take from New Hampshire?
“Around this point, (Boru’s friend) … appeared surprised with big eyes and asked me if this was because of his camera,” wrote Officer Nicholas Staber in a suspicious activity report. “I said ‘No,’ but I asked if he would show us videos of the mall. … (He) agreed but asked me if it was ‘illegal to take video’ several times.”
Boru said in an interview from his St. Paul office that his friend was only taking video of what he thought would be memorable – things he would want to show others after returning to New Hampshire.
Boru became frustrated when the guards continued to ask questions and insisted on contacting Bloomington police, even after the men provided identification and allowed security to review their footage.
Records show information from the report made its way to Minnesota’s fusion center, and an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was notified by fax. After learning his information ended up with the FBI, Boru said what happened to him is a waste of time and taxpayer money.
“If they have a concern regarding me, I have a duty to make sure I give them information (to) remove that concern,” Boru said. “That’s what I did. I give them my ID. I am homeowner. I live here over 10 years. I work here. I have children.”