It’s too soon to call the attack on Ohio State’s campus on Monday an act of terrorism, although the student who sent 11 people to the hospital might have been inspired by the deceased al Qaeda-linked terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as Islamic State.
“It’s too soon to draw any conclusions if this is terrorism,” FBI special agent Angela Byers said at a news conference held with the Columbus Division of Police on Wednesday afternoon.
For about a half hour, officials took questions from the press and discussed the ongoing investigation of Abdul Razak Ali Artan. On Monday, Artan, a third-year in logistics management, drove a gray Honda Civic sedan into a crowd of people gathered outside of Watts Hall because of a fire alarm. Artan then leaped out of the vehicle and reportedly began to attack the crowd with a butcher knife. Artan was shot and killed by University Police officer Alan Horujko. The victims of the attack were sent to various hospitals with non life-threatening injuries, although one was in critical condition. One person remains in the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon.
Byers said social media posts believed to be from Artan are being investigated. A Facebook page on which Artan allegedly decried the treatment of Muslims in the U.S. just before the attack is still being authenticated, she said.
Officers said the fire alarm going off — which caused people to exit the Watts Hall onto West 19th Avenue, where Artan then ran into them with his car — was not believed to be connected to Artan. Police suspect that he acted alone, although police were initially investigating the possibility of there being other perpetrators near the Lane Avenue parking garage on Monday morning.
Police also mentioned that one woman was shot in the ankle. They said the wound most likely came from a bullet from the gun of Horujko, who — as is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting — has been placed on administrative leave. No evidence of a firearm has been found, although the attack was originally reported as an active shooter via a Buckeye Alert text message.
“Witnesses say he (told Artan) to drop the knife more than once (before firing),” said Richard Bash, a Columbus Division of Police deputy chief in the investigative subdivision.
The shooting will be reviewed in front of a grand jury, as is the case with all officer-involved shootings, police said.
As authorities are piecing together the investigation, they said they are trying to figure out what Artan did in between buying a knife at Walmart Monday morning and coming to campus. The FBI had no knowledge or contact with Artan before Monday’s incident. Questions such as why Artan targeted OSU specifically, and why he attacked outside of Watts Hall, are still unanswered, authorities said.