Ter­ror­ism sus­pected in at­tack at Ohio State

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By An­drew WelshHug­gins and Julie Carr Smyth

COLUM­BUS, OHIO >> A So­mali-born Ohio State Univer­sity stu­dent plowed his car into a group of pedes­tri­ans on cam­pus and then got out and be­gan stab­bing peo­ple with a butcher knife Mon­day be­fore he was shot to death by an of­fi­cer. Police said they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether it was a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Eleven peo­ple were hurt, one crit­i­cally.

The at­tacker was iden­ti­fied as Ab­dul Razak Ali Ar­tan. He was born in So­ma­lia and 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 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 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 an hour and a half later.

Ohio State Univer­sity police Chief Craig Stone said the as­sailant de­lib­er­ately drove his small gray Honda over a curb out­side an engi­neer­ing class­room build­ing and then be­gan knif­ing peo­ple. A cam­pus of­fi­cer nearby be­cause of a gas leak ar­rived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.

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. “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 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.

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.”

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.

Ohio State’s stu­dent news­pa­per, The Lan­tern, ran an in­ter­view in Au­gust with a stu­dent named Ab­dul Razak Ar­tan, who iden­ti­fied him­self as a Mus­lim and a thirdyear 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 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.”

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 lone-wolf attacks in their home coun­tries with what­ever weapons are avail­able to them.

In Septem­ber, a 20-yearold 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 also have seen knife attacks blamed on ex­trem­ists.

Neigh­bors say 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 attacks 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, who is ac­tive in Is­lamic or­ga­ni­za­tions and is an Ohio State grad­u­ate.

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.

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 cam­pus on Satur­day.

“There were sev­eral mo­ments of chaos,” said Rachel LeMaster, who works in the engi­neer­ing col­lege. “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.

Classes were can­celed for the rest of the day.

The of­fi­cer who gunned the at­tacker down was iden­ti­fied as 28-year-old Alan Horu­jko, a mem­ber of the force for just un­der two years.

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.

“Run, hide, fight” is stan­dard pro­to­col for ac­tive shooter sit­u­a­tions. It means: Run away if pos­si­ble; get out of view; or try to disrupt or in­ca­pac­i­tate the shooter if your life is in im­mi­nent danger.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tors col­lect ev­i­dence from the pave­ment Mon­day as police re­spond to an at­tack on cam­pus at Ohio State Univer­sity in Colum­bus, Ohio.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A car in­side a police line sits on the side­walk Mon­day as au­thor­i­ties re­spond to an at­tack on cam­pus at Ohio State Univer­sity in Colum­bus, Ohio.

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