COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A Somali-born Ohio State University student plowed his car into a group of pedestrians on campus, then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday before he was shot to death by an officer, authorities said.
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.
Students gather Monday near the scene of an attack at Ohio State University in Columbus.
A car sits on the sidewalk in a cordoned-off area as authorities respond to an attack Monday on the Ohio State University campus.
Officials said they had no information on a possible motive, and police said they are investigating whether it was a terrorist attack.
The attacker was identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan. He was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to a U.S. official who wasn't authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FBI has joined the investigation.
The details emerged after a morning of confusion and conflicting reports, created in part by a series of tweets from the university warning that there was an "active shooter" on campus and that students should "run, hide, fight" -- the standard protocol for active-shooter situations. The warning was prompted by what turned out to be police gunfire.
Numerous police vehicles and ambulances converged on the 60,000-student campus, and authorities blocked off roads. Students barricaded themselves inside offices and classrooms, piling chairs and desks in front of doors, before getting the all-clear about 90 minutes later.
Witnesses on campus said a fire alarm went off in Watts Hall, which houses the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Monday morning shortly before a car drove toward a group of people outside.
Ohio State University Police Chief Craig Stone said the Columbus Fire Department responded to a report of a gas leak at Watts Hall, and authorities are investigating whether that was related to the attack.
Stone said the assailant deliberately drove his small gray Honda over a curb outside the building and then began knifing people. A campus officer was nearby because of the report of the gas leak, and the officer arrived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.
"Commands were not followed, and the officer did what he had to do to stop the threat," Stone said.
The officer who shot the attacker was identified as 28-year-old Alan Horujko, a member of the force for just under two years.
Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but Stone said investigators are looking into whether anyone else was involved.
Angshuman Kapil, a 25-year-old graduate student, was outside Watts Hall when the car barreled onto 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.
Logan Chapman, a senior at Ohio State, also thought it was an accident at first.
"Once the car had stopped, everyone was making sure the driver was OK," he said. "But he got out of the car and immediately started slashing people closest to the car with a knife."
Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, ran an interview in August with Artan, who identified himself as a Muslim and a third-year logistics management student who had just transferred from Columbus State in the fall.
He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and was worried about how he would be received.
"I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I'm a Muslim, it's not what media portrays me to be," he told the newspaper. "If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don't know what they're going to think, what's going to happen. But I don't blame them. It's the media that put that picture in their heads."
The Islamic State extremist group has urged sympathizers online to carry out lone-wolf attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
Neighbors said Artan was always polite and attended daily prayer services at a mosque on the city's west side.
Leaders of Muslim organizations and mosques in the Columbus area condemned the attack while cautioning people against jumping to conclusions or blaming a religion or an ethnicity.
"It is particularly heartbreaking to see this random act of violence come to this community I hold so dear," said Nicole Ghazi, an Ohio State graduate who is active in Islamic organizations.
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs, asked at a news conference whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, said: "I think we have to consider that it is." Jacobs said there was no indication the attacker used a gun, but she said investigators still have to search Artan's car.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that while the bloodshed is still under investigation, it "bears all of 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," he said.
Michael Drake, the university's president, said during a news briefing Monday afternoon that the university prepares for "situations like this but always hope never to have one." He said he was grateful it was neutralized rapidly. "This is obviously a tragic situation."
President-elect Donald Trump posted on Facebook that he was "watching the news unfold" in Columbus, adding: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the students and administration."
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, speaking at New York's Trump Tower, said his transition team's "hearts go out to the families of those affected" by the attack, adding that his team's "prayers are with" all the victims and first responders.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich sent a message of concern on social media. "Ohio's thoughts and prayers go out to the Ohio State community. Be safe, listen to first responders," Kasich wrote.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a statement Monday: "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 follow instructions of Ohio State authorities."
Classes were canceled for the rest of the day Monday, but school will be open today.
"It's emotionally draining and quite frightening," Drake said. "This is a good day to step back from classes, get our footing and open again tomorrow."
Information for this article was contributed by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Julie Carr Smyth, Alicia A. Caldwell, Eric Tucker, Collin Binkley and Mark Gillispie of The Associated Press; and by Kathy Lynn Gray, Susan Svrluga, Matt Zapotosky, Mark Berman, Nick Anderson, Libby Casey, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins of The Washington Post.
A Section on 11/29/2016
Print Headline: Ohio State student attacks, injures 11