COLUMBUS (Ohio), Nov 29 — Police identified the assailant who rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians at Ohio State University yesterday and attacked them with a butcher knife, as student Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
“We can tell you the suspect is an OSU student,” Craig Stone, police chief at the university, told a news conference at which officials released the name of the suspect, who was shot dead by police.
“We do not have information at the moment on motive,” added Monica Moll, public safety director at the university, saying only that the investigation was ongoing.
US media reported earlier that the attacker was of Somali descent, but officials did not confirm that, and they did not yet know his exact age, saying only that they believe he was born in 1998.
A student of the same name was profiled in the August issue of student newspaper The Lantern, for an article in which he spoke of the lack of Muslim prayer rooms on campus.
Artan, who was identified as a third-year transfer student studying logistics management, told the paper he was uncomfortable with how others might perceive him and was scared of praying on campus.
“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” he said.
Officials increased the tally of injured in yesterday’s attack to 11, from nine as earlier reported.
“We’ve had one additional victim who was hit by the car, who came in with some musculoskeletal injuries and is currently being assessed,” said Andrew Thomas, the chief medical officer for the university’s Wexner Medical Center, where some of the injured were being treated.
Officials said none of the injuries were life threatening.
Law enforcement relied on a network of surveillance cameras to identify the gray sedan used in the attack, Stone said.
“By tracking this vehicle, we could tell that the victim was in the car by himself,” he said, adding that law enforcement did not believe any one else participated in the attack, but not ruling out the possibility that others might be involved.
Law enforcement said the investigation was ongoing, not yet offering any motive for the attack.
“We may never totally find out why this person did what they did or why they snapped,” Ohio Governor John Kasich said.
The chaotic scene on the vast university campus, one of the largest in the US, unfolded throughout the morning, with alerts initially suggesting an active shooter on site and warning students and staff to shelter in place.
But the actual attack lasted mere minutes, officials said, with a responding officer fatal shooting the suspect.
The officer was identified as 28-year-old Alan Harujko.
A number of vigils and gatherings were planned in and around campus.
University officials cancelled classes and offered student and staff counseling. — AFP