COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Officials on Monday praised an Ohio State University police officer who shot and killed a man a minute after he drove his car into a crowd and then stabbed multiple people.
Officer Alan Horujko, who started on the University Police force in January 2015, was responding to reports of a nearby gas leak when the car jumped a curb on campus at 9:52 a.m.
Horujko ordered the attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, to drop the knife and then shot him when he didn't obey the command, university president Michael Drake said.
"The officer encountered the individual by 9:53 — the subject was neutralized by 9:53," Drake said, underscoring how quickly events unfolded.
Horujko is owed a debt of gratitude, said Monica Moll, director of Ohio State's Department of Public Safety.
"He did a fabulous job today," she said.
University Police Chief Craig Stone said it was fortunate the officer had gone to investigate the gas leak, which helped position him to respond to the attack so quickly.
Eleven people were hurt in the attack. Police said they were investigating whether it was terrorism.
Artan was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to a U.S. official who wasn't authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FBI joined the investigation.
Mayor Andrew Ginther called Horujko an "outstanding young law enforcement officer."
"There has never been a more dangerous or complicated and challenging time to be a police officer, and we had a dynamic well-trained professional today save the lives of many of our residents and students," said Ginther, a Democrat.
Horujko, 28, was placed on administrative leave Monday and the investigation turned over to Columbus police, consistent with protocol for police shootings. Horujko appears to be an avid runner, with several half-marathons under his belt, according to online race results.
Gov. John Kasich praised the speed with which Horujko and other officers acted.
Kasich, a Republican, described the response as "an unbelievable, amazing and outstanding and heroic performance on the part of our first responders."
The University Police Department is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It has officers on the main campus in Columbus and on regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark and Wooster.
Ohio State attack: Terrorism eyed as police seek more info
Investigators are looking into whether a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University that injured 11 people was an act of terror by a Somali-born student who had once criticized the media for its portrayal of Muslims.
The attacker, identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, plowed his car into a group of pedestrians on campus shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, and then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife before he was shot to death by a campus police officer, authorities said.
A motive was not immediately known, but police said they were investigating whether it was a terrorist attack.
Artan was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FBI joined the investigation.
Ohio State University police Chief Craig Stone said Artan deliberately drove his small gray Honda over a curb outside an engineering classroom building and then began knifing people. Officer Alan Horujko, 28, who was nearby because of a gas leak arrived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.
Angshuman Kapil, a graduate student, was outside Watts Hall when the car barreled onto the sidewalk.
"It just hit everybody who was in front," he said. "After that everybody was shouting, 'Run! Run! Run!'"
Eleven victims were taken to three Columbus hospitals. Most had been hurt by the car, and two had been stabbed, officials said. One had a fractured skull.
Several prayer vigils were held Monday night to support the victims and the community.
Classes at OSU were canceled after the attack, but were scheduled to resume Tuesday.
Students said they were nervous about returning and planned to take precautions such as not walking alone.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking going back to class right after it," said Kaitlin Conner, 18, of Cleveland, who said she had a midterm exam to take Tuesday.
Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the act bore the hallmarks of an attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized.
Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, ran an interview in August with a student named Abdul Razak Artan, who identified himself as a Muslim and a third-year logistics management student who had just transferred from Columbus State in the fall.
He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried about how he would be received.
"I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I'm a Muslim, it's not what media portrays me to be," he told the newspaper. "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."
In recent months, federal law enforcement officials have raised concerns about online extremist propaganda that encourages knife and car attacks, which are easier to pull off than bombings.
The Islamic State group has urged sympathizers online to carry out lone-wolf attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
Artan was not known to the FBI prior to Monday's attack, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Dozens of FBI agents began searching Artan's apartment Monday night.
Neighbors said he was always polite and attended daily prayer services at a mosque on the city's west side.
Leaders of Muslim organizations and mosques in the Columbus area condemned the attacks while cautioning people against jumping to conclusions or blaming a religion or an ethnicity.
Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but investigators are looking into whether anyone else was involved, the campus police chief said.