CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – As images of SWAT teams converging on the Ohio State campus started appearing over the airwaves Monday, parents of local students going to school there were frantically trying to reach them.
Police say that around 10 a.m., 18-year-old OSU student Abdul Razak Ali Artan plowed his car into a group of pedestrians on the sidewalk, then got out and started stabbing people with a butcher knife.
Several people were injured and Artan was killed by a responding police officer.
“Fortunately, she answered her phone today so she was safe…we’re very fortunate with that,” said Chrissy Smith, whose daughter, Ashley, attends OSU.
On a day when many had their early classes cancelled, a number of local OSU students were still asleep when the urgent messages started going out.
Ashley graduated from Canfield in 2015 and is now in her second year at OSU. She woke up to find several alerts and messages on her phone.
“I woke up to a bunch of alerts from friends and family, and from the Buckeye Alert System that we get text messages from the university,” she said.
Dominique Favre, also of Canfield, woke up to discover her phone blowing up with messages from concerned friends.
“I rolled over to check my phone and I have all these texts. Like, one group text from all my coworkers says, ‘Hey, are you guys out there? Are you safe?'”
Smith says that initially, her daughter knew something was wrong but she didn’t know what.
“A lot of times, you know, things are happening and she doesn’t even know that they’re happening, even though we get these text alerts. But today she said there were sirens all over campus.”
Ashley told WKBN over the phone late Monday morning that the activity at Watts Hall was centered right across the street from her dorm.
“We could see the police line out the window and stuff, and the people who were in the dorm with me, that I was just trying to make sure that they were safe.”
Others were going about their Monday morning routine on campus, including Rocky Jeswald, of Poland. He was in a dining area across from Watts Hall, where SWAT teams were converging.
“One of the workers at the dining hall came up to me and said, ‘You have to get away from the windows,’ and then I got a text from the university,” he said.
Although the incident was resolved quickly, the confusion continued long after the suspect had been killed by police.
Bob Murcko, of Poland, is asking why.
“Why somebody would want to do something so messed up like this, and why they had to resort to all this violence.”
Favre says she isn’t really surprised.
“I always kind of figured, with a university this well-known and this big, it would only be a matter of time. But I didn’t think that I would be on this campus when this happened.”
She admits that while classes will resume later this week, the sense of shock and concern won’t end any time soon.
In the Valley, parents struggled to learn what was happening in Columbus after receiving unnerving text messages.
“She sent me a text message to tell me that she was on lockdown in her classroom and at the time, they thought it was a shooter on campus,” said Nikki Manuel, whose daughter Marisa is a senior at OSU.
Although the initial messages of active shooters were not true, the news coming out was often confusing.
“You are three hours away. You don’t know if there’s two shooters. We didn’t know, you didn’t know anything and the kids, of course, didn’t know anything,” Manuel said.
Both Manuel and Smith say they’ve never really been overly concerned about violence on campus before, but add that they want to know more about exactly what happened on Monday before deciding whether or not they’ll still feel the same way.