Eleven people were injured at Ohio State University Monday after a student drove into a group of pedestrians outside a classroom building, got out of his car and stabbed several people with a butcher knife. Police said an Ohio State officer shot and killed the student within two minutes of the car driving into the crowd.
None of the victims' injuries, which include stab wounds and injuries from being struck by the vehicle, are believed to not be life threatening at this time, university officials said. The victims include several undergraduate and graduate students and at least one university staff member.
“We all do what we can to be as safe as we possibly can,” Michael Drake, Ohio State’s president, said during a news conference Monday. “We all live with the fear that things like this can happen to us. But by being diligent, we believe we can be as safe as possible. With our safety personnel and police officers here to respond and to help protect us, we were pleased this wasn’t as serious as it could have been.”
The attack occurred shortly before 10 a.m. when the student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, drove his speeding car into a crowd of people outside Watts Hall, a science and engineering building on campus. After getting out of the vehicle, police said, Artan slashed at several other students with a large butcher knife. Artan was a third-year logistics management student who had recently transferred to Ohio State from Columbus State Community College.
Watts Hall was being evacuated at the time after a fire alarm had been pulled due to a report of a gas leak. The fire alarm was unrelated to the stabbing, campus officials said, but the timing of the two incidents meant that an Ohio State police officer was already in front of the building when Artan jumped out of the vehicle. The officer, Alan Horujko, fatally shot Artan.
“He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” Craig Stone, Ohio State’s police chief, said. Police and campus officials have not said what motivated the attack.
Details of the stabbing emerged Monday afternoon after initial reports erroneously said a shooting had occurred at Ohio State’s flagship campus in Columbus. Officials originally announced through the university's Twitter and emergency management system that there was active shooter on campus and that students should shelter in place.
The messages stated that students should "Run Hide Fight," meaning they should evacuate, if possible; hide; or, if all else failed, fight. "The first order of business was to make the campus safe and secure," Drake said, explaining the earlier confusion. "And then we investigate."
The phrase “Run Hide Fight” has become a standard mantra among campus security officials in recent years. While the third word of the phrase has proven to be controversial among some safety experts, police say it is included only to help illustrate that fighting a shooter should be a would-be victim’s last resort. The phrase dates back to 2012, when officials in Houston, coined the term while designing a new protocol in response to the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
“‘Run, Hide, Fight’ is one of the programs used to train individuals about what to do if they are confronted with a life-threatening situation,” William Taylor, former president of the International Association of College Law Enforcement Administrators, said. “Although originally developed as an active-shooter program, it is a viable system for all kinds of life-threatening scenarios in any location.”
The attack is one of several stabbings that have taken place on or near college campuses in recent months. In August, two Ithaca College students were stabbed during a fight at Cornell University. One of the students died from his injuries. Seven people were stabbed near Emerson College in September. That same month, a student at Peru State College, in Nebraska, was charged with stabbing three other students. Earlier this month, a former Rutgers University student stabbed a current student and a professor.
Last year, a University of California, Merced, student injured four people in a campus stabbing spree. In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that the student, who was shot and killed by police, was acting alone but had been inspired by the Islamic State terror organization. Referencing reports that the suspect in the Ohio State stabbing was a U.S. resident who was born in Somalia, Drake, Ohio State’s president, urged students and faculty to avoid “jumping to conclusions” about what drove Monday’s attack.
"What we want to do is unify together, support each other, do our best to support those who were injured in their recovery," Drake said.
In August, Artan was interviewed as part of a recurring feature in Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern. He told the newspaper that, as a Muslim student, it was difficult finding a place to pray on campus.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media,” Artan said. “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, so they’re just going to have it and it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
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