COLUMBUS, Ohio (CBSNewYork/AP) — A police officer shot and killed a suspect who stabbed several people after purposely driving a vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus Monday, officials said.
Chaos erupted at the school Monday morning as students returned from Thanksgiving break. At 9:52 a.m., police said the attacker drove over a curb into pedestrians, got out and stabbed people with butcher knife.
Less than a minute later, he was shot and killed by an officer who was nearby because of an earlier gas leak, Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone said.
“To go over the curb and strike pedestrian and then get out and start striking them with a knife — that was on purpose,” Stone said Monday afternoon.
A law enforcement official told CBS News the suspected attacker is identified as 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Artan was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent resident of the U.S., according to a U.S. official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
When asked whether authorities were considering the possibility that it was a terror attack, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said, “I think we have to consider that it is.”
Lone wolf terror was being investigated as a possibility.
Nine people were transported to local hospitals, with stab wounds and other injuries. One person is in critical condition, police said.
Those injured in the attack included an Ohio State faculty member, four graduate students and three undergrads.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the attack came without warning, creating confusion and conflicting reports about what happened.
The school initially issued an alert telling students to “run, hide, fight” after reports of an active shooter at Watts Hall, a materials science and engineering building.
“Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College,” OSU Emergency Management tweeted.
“Run, hide, fight” is standard protocol for active shooter situations. 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.
Witnesses apparently mistook police gunfire for shots from the suspect.
“Just uncertainty, and not a lot of information getting through to us,” one student said, “definitely, definitely scary.”
“It wasn’t calm at all,” another student said. “Everybody was kind of freaking out.”
“It’s scary; it was really scary,” said university employee Rachel LeMaster. “We barricaded ourselves in our rooms like we were taught, turned off our lights, and just hunkered down.”
On social media, students and staff posted pictures of doors blocked with furniture and heavy objects.
But the suspect never made it inside any building on the huge campus. Police were on the scene less than a minute after the assailant rammed his vehicle into the crowd, and then got out with what was described as a butcher knife.
“The suspect cut multiple individuals,” said OSU Public Safety Director Monica Moll. “The officer engaged the suspect, and shot and killed the suspect.”
Columbus Police deployed SWAT, K-9, negotiators and helicopters to the scene.
Pictures posted by The Lantern, the school’s student newspaper, show a large emergency response.
A shelter-in-place order was lifted after the scene was declared safe around 11:30 a.m. All classes were canceled for the rest of the day.
Authorities said the officer who killed the attacker at Ohio State University was a university police officer who’d been on the job for less than two years.
OSU Department of Public Safety Director Monica Moll identified the officer who shot and killed the suspect as Alan Horujko, 28. She said he started on the Ohio State police force in January 2015.
Stone said it was fortunate there was a nearby gas leak that the officer had gone to investigate. Stone said it helped position Horujko to respond to the attack so quickly.
Authorities said they were able to get photos of the suspect’s vehicle driving onto campus and confirmed only one person was in the car.
Artan’s native Somalia is a troubled Muslim nation in East Africa. Earlier this year, Artan was the subject of a feature story in The Lantern in which he complained about the lack of prayer rooms for Muslim students.
Investigators want to know whether Artan was inspired by the terror group ISIS. In its most recent magazine, ISIS urged would-be jihadis to commit terror by driving into crowds.
The magazine added, “Having a secondary weapon, such as a gun or a knife, is also a great way to combine a vehicle attack with other forms of attacks.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, an Ohio State alum, offered a message of optimism following the attack.
“Ohio State will be stronger having come through this,” Kasich said.
But Monday was supposed to be another day of celebration after Ohio State’s historic weekend win over football archrival Michigan. Instead, students at the massive Columbus campus were supporting each other after the shocking attack.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s car was towed away from campus late Monday night, as authorities searched his townhouse nearby in an effort to find evidence and a motive.
A few months ago, Artan told the student newspaper that he resented how Muslims are portrayed in the media.
With nearly 60,000 students at its main campus, Ohio State is one of the nation’s largest universities.
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