Young police officer praised after shooting dead man 'carrying out terror attack' at Ohio State University
Published 29/11/2016 | 07:41
A police officer has been praised for shooting dead a man who drove his car into a crowd at Ohio State University and began to stab people with a butcher's knife.
Officer Alan Horujko, 28, who started on the Columbus university's police force in January 2015, was responding to reports of a nearby gas leak when the car mounted a campus kerb at 9.52am on Monday.
Officer Horujko ordered the attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, to drop the knife and shot him when he did not obey the command, university president Michael Drake said.
"The officer encountered the individual by 9.53 - the subject was neutralised by 9.53," Mr Drake said, underscoring how quickly events unfolded.
Monica Moll, director of Ohio's Department of Public Safety, said Officer Horujko was owed a debt of gratitude.
"He did a fabulous job today," she said.
Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther called Officer 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," he 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 and police are investigating whether it was terror-related. The FBI has also joined the investigation.
In recent months law enforcement chiefs 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 sympathisers online to carry out attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
Somalian-born Artan was a legal permanent US resident, according to a US official.
Officer Horujko, who has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, appears to be an avid runner, with several half-marathons under his belt, according to online race results.
Ohio governor John Kasich praised the speed with which he and other officers acted, describing their action as "an unbelievable, amazing and outstanding and heroic performance on the part of our first responders".
Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs, asked whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, said: "I think we have to consider that it is."
California congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee, said the bloodshed "bears all of the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalised".
"Here in the United States, our most immediate threat still comes from lone attackers that are not only capable of unleashing great harm but are also extremely difficult, and in some cases, virtually impossible to identify or interdict," he said.
Republican vice president-elect Mike Pence called the episode "a tragic attack" and said "our prayers are with them all".
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 transferred from Columbus State in the autumn.
He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried 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."