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.