COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — A man plowed his car into a group of pedestrians at The Ohio State University and then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday morning before he was shot to death by a police officer, authorities said.
Eleven people were hurt, one critically. All of them are expected to be okay.
Police said they were investigating the possibility it was a terrorist attack. The FBI and other agencies joined the investigation.
Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone said that the assailant deliberately drove over a curb outside a classroom building, got out of the vehicle and began to cut people in a crowd with a butcher knife. A police officer who was nearby because of a gas leak arrived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute.
Police believe only one person was involved in the attacks.
Ohio State Department of Public Safety Director Monica Moll identified the now-deceased suspect as Abdul Razak Ali Artan. Moll said he was a student at the school.
A U.S. official earlier told The Associated Press that he was born in Somalia and living in the United States as a legal permanent resident. The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss details of the ongoing case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Authorities said the officer who killed Artan was a university police officer, 28-year-old Alan Horujko, who has been on the job for less than two years. Moll said he started on the Ohio State police force in January 2015.
Chief Stone said it was fortunate there was a nearby gas leak that Horujko had gone to investigate because it helped position him to respond to the attack so quickly.
“At 9:52, the officer involved called out that a car had hit seven to eight pedestrians,” Moll said in a press conference.
“I had a chance to talk with the officer that was the first responder, and thank him for following this training and being able to neutralize the circumstances within roughly one minute,” said OSU President Michael Drake.
Horujko who graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in security and intelligence. During his time as a student, he served as a Student Safety Service officer between 2010 and 2012.
Columbus fire officials said 11 people were transported to local hospitals, and all 11 victims have non-life threatening injuries. Six patients were sent to OSU Wexner Medical Center, three went to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and two were taken to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
At least two people were being treated for stab wounds, four were injured by the car and two others were being treated for cuts, university officials said.
“I’m pleased to say I was able to see three of the people who were injured, and the injuries were not life-threatening,” Drake said. “Actually, all three patients were alert and in good spirits. In some cases, actually joking a bit.”
Officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.
“This was done on purpose,” Chief Stone said.
People who called 911 described the suspect driving over the curb in the area of 19th Avenue and College Road, hitting several people.
“I think this is some type of terrorist attack,” a caller said. “Because the guy ran a car through a crowd of students. The guy did it purposefully.”
While the scene was chaotic, students said that most other areas on campus remained calm.
“I mean, I saw people jogging but for the most part, people were just walking normally,” said Michael Abaskron, a freshman.
He felt that the administration handled the situation well.
“You could see by all these cops here. It could have been a lot worse.”
Campus remains open during the continued investigation, although classes have been canceled for the remainder of the day Monday.
The details emerged after a morning of confusion and conflicting reports that began with the university issuing a series of tweets at about 9:56 a.m., warning students that there was an “active shooter” on campus near the engineering building and that they should “run, hide, fight.” The warning was apparently prompted by what turned out to be police gunfire.
The shelter-in-place warning was lifted just after 11:30 a.m. and the campus declared secure after police concluded there was no second attacker, as rumored.
The Ohio State University issued the following statement just after 12:20 p.m.:
The university will continue to share information through Buckeye Alert and emergency.osu.edu. Our top priority remains the safety and security of our campus community. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families.
Heavily armed police, ambulances and SWAT vehicles could be seen on the Columbus campus. The FBI, Ohio State police and Columbus police were assisting university police.
When asked at a news conference 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.”
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 attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
In September, a 20-year-old Somali-American stabbed ten 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 abroad have also seen knife attacks blamed on extremists.
The attack came as students were returning to classes following the Thanksgiving holiday break and Ohio State’s football victory over rival Michigan that brought more than 100,000 fans to campus on Saturday.
Rachel LeMaster, who works in the engineering college, said a fire alarm sounded before the attack.
“There were several moments of chaos,” she said. “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..
Sophomore Wyatt Crosher said he heard what he thought was gunfire coming from a class building.
“My roommate and I heard about three or four gunshots from across the street, and soon after we heard a bunch of police and ambulances pull up across the street,” the 19-year-old said.
“I was going to class, and just all the people were running and I was really nervous, I was like, ‘Oh crap,’” said fifth-year senior Scott Bedle. “I saw people running, cop sirens, everything.”
“I heard, like, multiple gunshots and I wasn’t sure if it was real or not but as soon as I looked out the window, and I saw the same,” said senior Yoon Lee.
Several officials released statements following the attack, including President-elect Donald Trump:
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther also released the following statement:
As we continue to work to understand today’s tragic events, we must give thanks to our first responders and emergency medical professionals for doing everything in their power to assure the best possible outcome under trying circumstances. Their heroic actions saved lives today, and for that we are most grateful.
I have personally met with several of the victims this afternoon, and I am pleased to report that their spirits are good and they are receiving the best of care. The City stands with The Ohio State University in supporting all those who were impacted by today’s traumatic events, and will work with Ohio State to help the university community heal physically and emotionally in the days and weeks to come.
It is important in these difficult times that we come together as a community to support one another, and to resist the temptation to lash out in anger, or to let the actions of one person define an entire community. As an open, diverse and inclusive city, it is especially important to stand with our entire community and work toward productive strategies to stop senseless acts of violence everywhere.
Ohio Governor John Kasich weighed in on Twitter:
Ohio’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Ohio State community. Be safe, listen to first responders. https://t.co/5qtfH3Fb6d
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 28, 2016
He later released a longer statement reading:
My thoughts are with the victims of this attack right now and I pray for their safety and recovery. I am grateful for the professional, coordinated response from first responders whose efforts helped effectively contain this incident before further harm could be done. I have been staying in contact with Ohio first responders since the incident began and have spoken with Ohio State’s President Dr. Michael Drake to pledge whatever additional help the university needs.
Others to issue statements included Cleveland Cavaliers player Lebron James, who was on campus this past Saturday, and the University of Michigan Athletics department.
Praying for all students on @OhioState campus!! Please find safely asap!! 🙏.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 28, 2016
Stay safe, Buckeyes.
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) November 28, 2016
For now, the student body will focus on coming together and helping one another.
“It’s just sad to hear. Buckeyes are a family here and if one person is going through it, I’m sure somebody else is going through it,” said senior Greg Overstrom. “We don’t know the backstory. There could have been anything, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions.”
Several campus area faith communities planned services Monday evening to pray for the victims of the attack.
A prayer vigil took place at Jacob’s Porch located at 45 East 13th Avenue at 4 p.m. St. Thomas More Newman Center invited the community to light a candle for the OSU community during a 5:30 p.m. mass, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and University Center held a prayer vigil at 7 p.m.
READ MORE: Full list of vigils for attack victims
Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus is one of the largest in the United States. The university has more than 65,000 students enrolled across the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.