11 in­jured in stu­dent’s car-knife ram­page at Ohio State

Chi­nese stu­dent reports flee­ing chaos be­fore sus­pect is shot dead


A stu­dent from China wit­nessed the vi­o­lent ram­page on the Ohio State Univer­sity cam­pus on Mon­day in which 11 peo­ple were in­jured be­fore the sus­pect was shot dead.

“The whole thing was re­ally ter­ri­fy­ing!” Cai Dawei posted on Chi­nese on­line mes­sag­ing app WeChat.

Cai said the in­ci­dent started when some­one pulled a fire alarm in Watts Hall, “and then all the peo­ple were evac­u­ated, wait­ing at the end of the 19th Street on cam­pus”.

“The fire depart­ment left af­ter noth­ing was found in the build­ing. About 20 or 30 sec­onds (af­ter they left), a car rammed into a group of peo­ple; some­one may have tipped the sus­pect off, since all the peo­ple who were in the build­ing were wait­ing out­side, in­clud­ing pro­fes­sors, a few of whom were too old to run,” Cai said.

Af­ter plow­ing into pedes­tri­ans, wit­nesses said the sus­pect, Ab­dul Razak Ali Ar­tan, got out of his ve­hi­cle and be­gan stab­bing peo­ple with a butcher knife be­fore he was shot dead by po­lice. Po­lice said they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether it was a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

A US gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial con­firmed the as­sailant was from So­ma­lia and a law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dent of the United States.

A sec­ond gov­ern­ment source said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieved Ar­tan was a So­mali refugee. Columbus, the state cap­i­tal, has a large So­mali pop­u­la­tion.

“The car knocked down many peo­ple … then the sus­pect chased af­ter a wave of peo­ple,” Cai said. “Luck­ily, I was run­ning to­ward another di­rec­tion. Then, I hid in­side a house nearby. Then many am­bu­lances came in to hos­pi­tal­ize the in­jured vic­tims.

“Now I’m OK, but get­ting cold feet,” he said. “I haven’t told my fam­ily yet be­cause I don’t want them to be wor­ried.”

Of the 11 peo­ple in­jured, one was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

A se­ries of tweets by the univer­sity warned that there was an “ac­tive shooter” on cam­pus and that stu­dents should “run, hide, fight”. The warn­ing was prompted by what turned out to be po­lice gun­fire.

The ini­tial tweet from Ohio State emer­gency of­fi­cials went out around 10 a.m. and said: “Buck­eye Alert: Ac­tive Shooter on cam­pus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and Col­lege.” Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Michael Drake said the warn­ing was is­sued af­ter shots were heard on cam­pus.

Ohio State Po­lice Chief Craig Stone said that the as­sailant de­lib­er­ately drove his small gray Honda over a curb out­side an engi­neer­ing class­room build­ing and then be­gan knif­ing peo­ple. 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.

“This was done on pur­pose,” Stone said of the at­tack.

Ang­shu­man Kapil, a grad­u­ate stu­dent, was out­side Watts Hall when the car bar­reled onto the side­walk.

“It just hit ev­ery­body who was in front,” he said.

Stu­dent Martin Sch­nei­der said he heard the car’s en­gine revving.

Surveil­lance pho­tos showed Ar­tan in the car by him­self just be­fore the at­tack, but in­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into whether any­one else was in­volved, the cam­pus po­lice chief said.

“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.

Most of the in­jured were hurt by the car, and at least two were stabbed, of­fi­cials said. One had a frac­tured skull.

Asked 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.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, a Democrat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said the in­ci­dent “bears all of the hall­marks of a ter­ror at­tack car­ried out by some­one who may have been self-rad­i­cal­ized”.

The blood­shed came as stu­dents were re­turn­ing to classes fol­low­ing the Thanks­giv­ing break and Ohio State’s foot­ball vic­tory over ri­val Michi­gan that brought more than 100,000 fans to the cam­pus on Satur­day.

Ac­cord­ing to The Lan­tern, the col­lege news­pa­per, Chi­nese stu­dents rep­re­sent nearly 60 per­cent of the in­ter­na­tional stu­dent pop­u­la­tion at Ohio State, which has 60,000 stu­dents at the main Columbus cam­pus. There were 3,606 Chi­nese stu­dents en­rolled in the fall of 2013.

Cheng Linya of Bei­jing, who stud­ies ur­ban plan­ning at OSU, said, “We are fine since we re­ceived the alert be­fore we went to class. … Ex­cept the at­tack that hap­pened to­day, I think Ohio is a very safe area. We may re­ceive a safety alert once a year, but noth­ing big had hap­pened be­fore to­day’s at­tack, so ba­si­cally I don’t think this is a dan­ger­ous place.”

The Lan­tern pub­lished an in­ter­view in Au­gust with a stu­dent named Ab­dul Razak Ar­tan, who iden­ti­fied him­self as Mus­lim.

He said he was look­ing for a place to pray openly and wor­ried 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.”

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 off­duty of­fi­cer. Au­thor­i­ties said he asked some of his vic­tims if they were Mus­lim.

I thought it was an ac­ci­dent ini­tially un­til I saw the guy come out with a knife.” Martin Sch­nei­der, Ohio State Univer­sity stu­dent

Ab­dul Razak Ar­tan


A blood­ied body lies out­side of the CBEC Build­ing and Kof­folt Labs fol­low­ing the at­tack on Ohio State Univer­sity’s cam­pus in Columbus, Ohio, on Mon­day.

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