COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A man plowed his car into a group of pedestrians at Ohio State University and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday before he was shot to death by a police officer. Police said they are investigating whether it was a terrorist attack.
11 people were hurt, one of them critically.
The attacker was identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali-born legal permanent resident of the U.S., according to a U.S. official who wasn’t authorized to discuss details of the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Associated Press reports that the suspect was a student at the university.
The FBI and other agencies joined the investigation.
Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone said that the assailant deliberately drove over a curb outside a classroom building, got out of the vehicle and began to cut people in a crowd with a butcher knife.
OSU police officer Alan Horujko, who was nearby because of a gas leak, arrived on the scene within a minute of the attack beginning and shot and killed the driver.
“A police officer was on the scene within a minute and killed the assailant. He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” Stone said.
Officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.
“This was done on purpose,” Stone said.
All victims have non life-threatening injuries
Columbus fire officials tell NBC4 that 11 people were transported to local hospitals, and all 11 victims have non-life-threatening injuries. Six patients were sent to OSU Wexner Medical Center, three went to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and two were taken to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
At least two people were being treated for stab wounds, four were injured by the car and two others were being treated for cuts, university officials said.
Campus remains open during the continued investigation, although classes have been canceled for the remainder of the day.
The details emerged after a morning of confusion and conflicting reports that began with the university issuing a series of tweets at about 9:56am warning students that there was an “active shooter” on campus near the engineering building and that they should “run, hide, fight.” The warning was apparently prompted by what turned out to be police gunfire.
The shelter-in-place warning was lifted just after 11:30am and the campus declared secure after police concluded there was no second attacker, as rumored.
The Ohio State University issued the following statement just after 12:20pm:
The university will continue to share information through Buckeye Alert and emergency.osu.edu. Our top priority remains the safety and security of our campus community. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families.
All buildings except for Student Academic Services were reopened to the public by 3pm so students and staff could retrieve personal items. 19th avenue remains closed, and those needing to access buildings are told to use 18th or Woodruff.
FBI assisting in the investigation
Heavily armed police, ambulances and SWAT vehicles could be seen on the Columbus campus. The FBI, Ohio State police and Columbus police were assisting university police.
Asked at a news conference whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said: “I think we have to consider that it is.”
In recent months, federal law enforcement officials have raised concerns about online extremist propaganda that encourages knife and car attacks, which are easier to pull off than bombings.
The Islamic State group has urged sympathizers online to carry out attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
In September, a 20-year-old Somali-American stabbed 10 people at a St. Cloud, Minnesota, shopping mall before being shot to death by an off-duty officer. Authorities said he asked some of his victims if they were Muslim. In the past few years, London and other cities abroad have also seen knife attacks blamed on extremists.
OSU students describe what they heard
The attack came as students were returning to classes following the Thanksgiving holiday break and Ohio State’s football victory over rival Michigan that brought more than 100,000 fans to campus on Saturday.
“I was going to class and just all the people were running and I was really nervous I was like oh crap,” said 5th year senior Scott Bedle. “I saw people running cop sirens everything.”
“I heard like multiple gunshots, and I wasn’t sure if it was real or not but as soon as I looked out the window and I saw the same,” said senior Yoon Lee.
Rachel LeMaster, who works in the engineering college, said a fire alarm sounded on campus.
“There were several moments of chaos,” she said. “We barricaded ourselves like we’re supposed to since it was right outside our door and just hunkered down.”
LeMaster said she and others were eventually led outside the building and she saw a body on the ground.
Other students barricaded themselves in classrooms.
President-Elect Donald Trump issued a statement following the attack:
Watching the news unfold at Ohio State University. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the students and administration.
Excellent job by the Ohio State University Emergency Management Team (OSU_EMFP) in immediately notifying students & faculty via social media with the message: “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.”
THANK YOU to all FIRST RESPONDERS who reacted immediately and eliminated the threat on campus.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther offered his thoughts and prayers to the victims and students on Twitter. He also released the following statement:
“As the situation at the Ohio State University unfolds, we lift up the victims and the first responders in our thoughts and prayers. We ask for students and university employees to continue to follow instructions of Ohio State authorities.”
Columbus City Council President Zach Klein also released the following statement regarding the situation on campus:
“Columbus City Council stands united with The Ohio State University. We are continually thinking about and praying for all those involved and affected by this senseless act of violence. City Council stands ready to do its part to support the University, all law enforcement agencies involved, and the entire OSU community.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich weighed in on Twitter saying, “Ohio’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Ohio State community. Be safe, listen to first responders.”
Others to issue statements included Cleveland Cavaliers player Lebron James, who was on campus this past Saturday, and the University of Michigan Athletics department.
Facebook activated its safety check feature following news of the campus shooting.
Lutheran Campus Ministries announced they will hold a public prayer service for OSU victims tonight near campus. The event will be helped on 45 E 13th Ave at 4:00pm.
Just one year ago, the university posted this training video on YouTube to try and get more people to form a plan for survival in the event of an active shooter situation.
“Three simple words could save lives so remember run, hide, fight,” Ohio State University Police Training Coordinator Adam Tabor said in the video.
Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus is one of the largest in the United States. The university has more than 65,000 students enrolled across the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.