Alan Horujko doesn’t remember the sound.
The University Police officer fired his Glock 22 pistol five times toward Abdul Razak Ali Artan on the morning of Nov. 28, 2016, killing the attacker who moments earlier rammed his car into a crowd of students and began slashing them with a butcher knife, but Horujko can’t recall the sound.
In the moments between the crash and the gunshots, time slowed for Horujko. What lasted only 53 seconds, he said, felt like half an hour.
Officers are told in moments of distress, they’ll likely experience tunnel vision and auditory exclusion, making it difficult to recall the events that took place. That didn’t happen for Horujko.
“I remember everything kind of sounding echo-y and very surreal, but I was able to pick up on a bunch of details,” Horujko said in an interview conducted by Ohio State, which the university released Monday, a day before the one-year anniversary of the attack that left 13 wounded.
“I yelled after [Artan] multiple times, ‘Drop the knife. Drop the knife. Drop the knife.’ But he never looked back at me. Never acknowledged me.”
Horujko chased after Artan for about 100 yards from MacQuigg Laboratory, watching as the 18-year-old slashed somebody with a knife, and radioed “10-3, 10-3,” police code for officer in trouble.
As Artan drew close to the main entrance of the Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry corridor, which Horujko could see was filled with students studying, Artan finally took notice of the officer in pursuit.
“A bunch of [students were] standing up, seeing what the commotion was about, seeing who was yelling, who was running,” Horujko said.
He yelled a few more times to get Artan’s attention, who finally looked at the officer.
“I remember him looking at me, looking back at the female he was chasing and then the front doors he was trying to get to, looking back at me again and then making a longer turn and running straight at me at that point,” Horujko said.
Then he fired his weapon. Five rounds. Five sounds.
It wasn’t until Artan fell at his feet that Horujko realized what had just happened.
Horujko was at MacQuigg because he volunteered for a simple task: help traffic flow on West 19th Avenue after the building was evacuated following a gas leak. After filing a theft report that morning, Horujko was about to go get coffee in preparation for what he thought was going to be a long 16-hour shift. Instead, he volunteered to handle the menial task of directing traffic — and ended his shift hours early as a hero.
With Artan at his feet, Horujko kicked the knife away, and, with the help of a medic from the Columbus Division of Fire who was on hand because of the gas leak, he cleared the scene.
He then ran back to the car he first witnessed plow into a crowd of people.
“I wanted to make sure I could give first aid to anybody there until the medics could get to those people. So I ended up sprinting back that whole way I had sprinted before,” Horujko said.
When he returned to the site of the crash, no one was around.
“It was just a smoking car and there was a bike wedged under the front of it and there was absolutely nobody there,” Horujko said.
But when he first observed the gray Honda Civic drive up on the curb and strike the gathered students, Horujko believed the incident to be merely an accident and a medical emergency.
The stars aligned in some way to put me right there where I was needed to protect those people. – University Police officer Alan Horujko
It wasn’t until he ran up to the vehicle and noticed the driver-side door open and the car empty, followed by a secondary wave of screams, that he began to realize something wasn’t right.
He drew his gun and said, “What’s going on?”
“He’s got a machete,” someone responded, pointing in the direction which Artan had begun to run.
Artan was “chasing anybody he could reach” and “slashing pretty wildly at anybody,” Horujko said.
Horujko began his 100-yard pursuit of the attacker, eventually firing those fatal five rounds.
In the year since, Horujko has received honors from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio House of Representatives. However, the man many consider to be a hero has opted out of the public eye until now.
“I’m a pretty private guy. Like to be humble and out of the spotlight,” Horujko said. “Immediately after the fact, I really didn’t want any of that attention. I just wanted to go back to normal life and normal patrol and helping people out.”
Asked to summarize the day in a word, Horujko said “grateful.” Grateful for his training, which had seen him go through a similar exercise less than a month prior where he was required to deal with a situation involving a man with a knife in a building.
Grateful that he had volunteered to go direct traffic, which, as he said, was “like the stars aligned in some way to put me right there where I was needed to protect those people.”