Ohio State student identified as campus attacker, nearly a dozen hospitalized – Washington Post
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio State student drove a speeding car into a crowd outside a classroom building Monday morning, then got out and slashed at people with a butcher knife, sending 11 people to the hospital in what authorities said was a planned assault.
University public safety officials identified the student as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who neighbors said belonged to a large Somali family living in Columbus.
Police responded swiftly to the chaotic scene on campus Monday, and within a minute, a university police officer shot and killed Artan. But it was hours before people understood the details of what had happened on the flagship state campus, as terrified witnesses described a crash, gunfire, stabbings and screaming students sprinting to find a hiding place.
It was yet another sign that universities, once thought of as peaceful havens, are vulnerable to sudden, violent attacks.
The violence prompted a shelter-in-place order at the country’s third-largest public university, shutting down a bustling campus just miles from the Ohio Statehouse.
Police said they believe Artan is 20 years old, and in an interview with the Lantern student newspaper in August he said that he was a junior in logistics management who had transferred from Columbus State Community College.
Columbus State said that Artan was enrolled there from 2014 until this past summer, graduating with an associate of arts degree last spring before taking a non-credit class during the summer. Artan had no records of behavioral or disciplinary issues while enrolled there, the school said.
In the interview with the Lantern, Artan described his Muslim prayers and said that Ohio State was so big that he didn’t even know where to pray.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going in the media,” he said. “I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. … I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
Online records identify him as a logistics management major in the College of Business at Ohio State.
Louann Carnahan lived next door to Artan on the west side of Columbus in a community with many Somali families. She said Artan lived in an apartment with about eight other people.
“He was a nice guy, always speaking when spoken to,” Carnahan said. He was always pleasant, she said, and had told her he went to the mosque daily.
Jack Ouham, owner of the Home Town Market near Artan’s home, said he lived with several brothers and sisters and his mother in a three-bedroom apartment for the past year. He said the family is Somali but had lived in Pakistan prior to coming to Columbus. He described him as “a really nice guy, really quiet, very friendly. No craziness. A very normal, respectful guy.”
Video cameras recorded Artan driving onto the campus and heading to the scene of the attack, showing that he was alone in the car and during the assault, Craig Stone, chief of the Ohio State University police, said at a news conference. Stone said police do not yet know a possible motive or if anybody else was involved.
Earlier Monday, Stone had said it was too soon to know whether this was a terrorist plot but that it was clear that “this was done on purpose.” The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have encouraged followers to carry out knife attacks, and the Islamic State also has urged its supporters to use cars as weapons. In July, a man the militant group called a “soldier” killed dozens with a truck attack in France.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House intelligence committee, said he was briefed on the attack Monday and said in a statement it “bears all the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized.”
“Here in the United States, our most immediate threat still comes from lone attackers that are not only capable of unleashing great harm, but are also extremely difficult, and in some cases, virtually impossible to identify or interdict,” Schiff said.
The choice of weapons in Columbus was consistent with attack instructions recently released by the Islamic State, according to Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online communications of extremists.
This month, the extremist group released a video about knife attacks after its magazine wrote about using cars for attacks, Katz said.
That Artan was stopped before attacking more people was likely because an Ohio State campus police officer happened to be in the area due to an earlier report of a gas leak. That officer saw the violence and, within a minute, fatally shot Artan, officials said.
The @OSUPolice confirm Officer Alan Horujko shot and killed
the suspect, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, Monday morning. (OFFICER PHOTO ATTACHED) pic.twitter.com/i1skmuLqCb
— OSU Emergency Mngmnt (@OSU_EMFP) November 28, 2016
The attack sent 11 people to area hospitals Monday, one in critical condition, officials said. None of the wounds were believed to be life-threatening. The injured included at least one faculty member as well as undergraduate students, graduate students and a university staff member.
Angshuman Kapil, a 25-year-old student, was waiting outside Ohio State’s Watts Hall with 50 or 60 other people who had left the building because of a fire alarm.
“A car suddenly appeared driving at a high speed,” he said. It hit three or four people and one victim was flipped over the car. The car also struck a concrete barrier. He and others ran inside the building. “My body was shaking,” he said.
When the attack happened, Officer Alan Horujko, who has been with the school’s police force since January 2015, was nearby because of an earlier report of a gas leak in the same area. Police say they think the reported gas leak was not related to the attack. Horujko, 28, was “in the right place at the right time,” Stone said.
The officer called in a report at 9:52 a.m. about a car hitting several pedestrians, according to authorities. Seconds later, he reported that an officer was in trouble due to a man with a knife, and by 9:53 a.m., Horujko had called in that shots were fired and a suspect was down.
Horujko’s quick action helped minimize the toll of the attack, said Monica Moll, the school’s director of public safety.
Police released essentially no information about Artan other than his name, saying they still have to speak with people who knew him and get a warrant to search his property; law enforcement vehicles surrounded the home Monday.
“At the end of the day we will find out what happened,” Gov. John Kasich (R), who graduated from Ohio State in 1974, said at a briefing. “We may never totally find out why this person did what they did or why they snapped. We may never find out. But we’re going to have a lot more information.”