Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said officials “have to consider that it is that possibility” that a mass stabbing on the Ohio State University campus this morning was a terrorist attack.
The campus was locked down for an active shooter situation, but authorities said at a press conference that the bullets were fired by a responding officer. “There’s no indication of a firearm being used by that suspect,” Jacobs said.
The attack occurred on 19th Avenue in front of Watts Hall. Shortly before 10 a.m., a vehicle jumped the curb and ran into a group of pedestrians on the sidewalk. That initial impact injured “several,” OSU president Michael Drake said.
Then the suspect, who has not been identified by police, got out and used a butcher knife to cut “multiple” people. Ten were transported to area hospitals, with one victim in critical condition.
Dispatch first received the call of the attack at 9:52 a.m., followed by a call at 9:53 a.m. that an OSU police officer fired at the suspect.
OSU public safety director Monica Moll said officers from multiple jurisdictions responded to the scene and law enforcement personnel in the area continue to investigate, but “we believe the threat was ended when the officer engaged the suspect.”
A few buildings remain shut down “as a precaution,” Moll said, as officers “continue to sweep those.”
Jacobs stressed that two men photographed in handcuffs being led away from an OSU parking garage are not suspects, but people who got caught up in the police search and were “treated as potential suspects.” Police were searching a garage on Lane Avenue after rumors of a second suspect.
“We have a lot of witnesses to interview,” the chief said, but “we don’t have anything to tell us there’s a conspiracy going on.”
Drake commended OSU police who “kept something very unfortunate from being much worse.”
“We all live with fear that things like this can happen to us… we’re pleased that this was no more serious than it could have been,” the university president said, adding “we all know we live in an open society where these kinds of tragedies happen on an all too frequent basis.”
Classes were canceled, Drake said, “to give the police a chance to begin their investigation.”
OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said a butcher knife was recovered from the scene; he wouldn’t say if suspect was a student.
NBC reported, though, that the attacker was an 18-year-old student originally from Somali and a legal permanent resident of the United States.
Stone said “it’s too early to say” this was a terrorist attack, but he was able to conclude this “was done on purpose.”
The ram-and-stab attack method has been used recently by Palestinian terrorists in Israel, including an attack at the end of October in which a terrorist tried to run over IDF soldiers at a checkpoint near Ofra and then jumped out with a meat cleaver.
Last month, the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine advised lone jihadists to get over any squeamishness about using knives and embrace sharp objects as “widely available” weapons of jihad.
“It is explicitly advised not to use kitchen knives, as their basic structure is not designed to handle the kind of vigorous application used for assassinations and slaughter,” the article stated, further advising “to avoid troublesome knives, those that can cause harm to the user because of poor manufacturing.”
Knife-wielding terrorists were advised to target smaller crowds or someone walking home from a night out or working the night shift, “or someone walking alone in a public park or rural forested area, or someone by himself in an alley close to a night club or another place of debauchery, or even someone out for a walk in a quiet neighborhood. One should consider canals, riversides, and beaches.” They further advised jihadists to inflict blunt-force trauma on victims before stabbing.