Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student at Ohio State, drove his car into a crowd of people before stabbing bystanders with a butcher knife
Police named Abdul Razak Ali Artan as the assailant in an Ohio State University attack on Monday, hours after he drove into a crowd of people, exited the car and stabbed bystanders with a butcher knife. Police said Artan, who was fatally shot by police, was a student at the university.
The university president, Michael Drake, said he had heard it was Artan’s first semester, but would not provide further details because the investigation is ongoing.
Unconfirmed reports, citing anonymous sources, said Artan was born in Somalia and had permanent residency in the US. There has been no direct public statement on this by police, the university or other officials.
Eleven people were hurt, one critically. Most of the injured were hurt by the car, and at least two were stabbed, officials said. One had a fractured skull.
Nine people were being treated at area hospitals with stab wounds and injuries related to being hit by a car, according to a hospital spokesperson. An earlier report from the Columbus fire department had said at least 10 people had been transported from the scene.
“We prepare for situations like this but always hope never to have one,” said Drake, at a press conference at the university’s Wexner Medical Center.
Andrew Thomas, chief medical officer for Wexner, said victims were taken to three area hospitals with stab wounds and other injuries.
A warning to shelter in place was lifted around 11.30am after police said they had secured the scene.
Monica Moll, OSU public safety director, said “we do believe the threat ended” when the officer shot the suspect.
OSU police issued an alert about the situation around 9.52am local time on social media. Police advised people on campus to shelter in place and follow the “run, hide, fight” safety protocol for when a shooting takes place. It means: Run, evacuate if possible; hide, get silently out of view; or fight, as a last resort, take action to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter if your life is in imminent danger.
The university’s police chief, Craig Stone, said that the assailant deliberately drove over a curb outside a classroom building and then got out and began attacking people with the knife. A campus officer who happened to be nearby because of a gas leak arrived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.
Angshuman Kapil, a graduate student, was outside the building when the car barreled on to the sidewalk.
“It just hit everybody who was in front,” he said. “After that everybody was shouting, ‘Run! Run! Run!’”
Student Martin Schneider said he heard the car’s engine revving. “I thought it was an accident initially until I saw the guy come out with a knife,” Schneider said, adding that the man didn’t say anything when he got out.
OSU student Cydney Ireland spoke to ABC6 from a bathroom she said she was hiding in on campus. “The first thing I heard were screams,” Ireland said.
She said she then heard a whistle, followed by at least three gunshots that “sounded like a handgun”.
Witnesses told local news that after a fire alarm went off, a car jumped the curb and drove into a crowd of students.
After the car crashed, a man attacked bystanders with a knife, Jerry Kovacich, a third-year student, told the college newspaper, the Lantern.
“The guy ended up just coming and hopping the curb with his car and trying to mow down a couple people,” Kovacich said. “He lost control, and I think he ended up hitting three people, and then people were around the car.
“Somebody asked him if he was OK and the guy just hopped out of the car with a butcher knife and starting chasing people around.”
The incident was said to have occurred on the north-east part of campus on the first day of class after the Thanksgiving holiday break. All classes were cancelled on Monday.
Asked at a news conference whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, the Columbus police chief, Kim Jacobs, said: “I think we have to consider that it is.”
Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but investigators were looking into whether anyone else was involved, the campus police chief said.
Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, was monitoring the situation and spoke with the Drake, according to a governor’s office spokeswoman.
“Ohio’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Ohio State community,” Kasich said in a statement. “Be safe, listen to first responders.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said its field division is responding to the scene and the FBI has joined the investigation.
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