Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Monday, a man hit a group of pedestrians with a car on the campus of Ohio State University, then got out and attacked them with a butcher knife.
A campus police officer happened to be nearby at the time of the attack and was able to respond swiftly. Within minutes, the officer called in the attack, reported another officer was in trouble, and then shot and killed the suspect. The university told students to "Run Hide Fight" and shelter in place.
Learn more about "Run Hide Fight"
The attack occurred near Watts Hall, a building near the center of campus that is home to materials science and engineering programs.
Who were the victims? How are they doing?
The most recent count of victims numbers 11 people, who include undergraduate and graduate students as well as at least one faculty member. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening, according to medical officials.
Who was the attacker?
The suspect has been identified as an Ohio State student named Abdul Razak Ali Artan. He was a junior in logistics management and had transferred recently from Columbus State Community College. Columbus State officials say Artan had no record of behavioral or disciplinary issues while enrolled there.
Artan was a permanent U.S. resident who was born in Somalia, and according to neighbors, lived with his family in Columbus.
Artan was interviewed by the student newspaper, The Lantern, in August. He described feeling self-conscious about praying on campus: "I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media," he told The Lantern. "I'm a Muslim, it's not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don't know what they’re going to think, what's going to happen."
Neighbors expressed surprise at the attacker's identity. One neighbor described Artan as "a really nice guy, really quiet, very friendly. No craziness. A very normal, respectful guy."
What do we know about the attacker's motive?
Very little at this point, but Ohio State's chief of police, Craig Stone, said at a news conference that it's clear "this was done on purpose."
Some are hypothesizing a terrorist motive for the attack. The pattern follows recent instructions from the Islamic State, according to Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (California) told the Washington Post that the attack "bears all the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized." However, a senior counterterrorism official told the publication that they have no evidence Artan was in contact with the Islamic State.
"It's an ongoing investigation to determine motive," Stone said.
How is the community responding?
President Michael Drake said Monday afternoon that he was grateful the threat had been handled so quickly. He also praised students for reacting swiftly and supporting each other, noting that students are required to attend active-shooter training during orientation.
"What we really want to do is unify together, support each other," Drake said.
All classes were canceled Monday, but the school reopened Tuesday.
Faculty and staff "are all thinking about the victims… and the Somali student community," said Professor Bennet Givens, chair of Ohio State's faculty council. "We want to support everyone as best we can and get back to the business of academics."
Local Muslim and Somali leaders are condemning the attack as "horrific" and "sickening."
"This hurts," said Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio. "We don't want our friends and neighbors to be afraid of us. Our goal is to be a law-abiding community."
(Lynn Gray et al., Washington Post, 11/28; Smith et al., New York Times, 11/28; New, Inside Higher Ed, 11/29; Zamudio-Suaréz, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/28; Horn et al., USA Today/Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/28).
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