JULIE CARR SMYTH and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) 11/30 — A professor who was among 11 people hurt in a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University said he had no idea what was happening until he heard screams all around him.
Engineering professor William Clark said he was hit by the car from behind and was thrown into the air.
“When the car hit me I really didn’t know what to think,” he said Tuesday after being released from a hospital.
Clark’s tone toward the assailant, a first-semester student who was born in Somalia, was tempered. He said he would hold judgment until more is known.
“As horrible as this is, this is one of those isolated incidents,” he said.
But he became a little emotional when praising the campus police officer who stopped the attack by shooting and killing the assailant.
“Who knows what other damage this young man would have done,” said Clark, who underwent surgery for two deep cuts on his leg.
Three people remained hospitalized a day after the Monday attack.
The assailant, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, drove a car onto a sidewalk and into a group of pedestrians before he got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife. He was shot within a minute of beginning the attack.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation into the attack but not authorized to discuss it publicly told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Artan had written on Facebook about being angry with U.S. interference in Muslim countries.
Artan attended daily prayer services at a mosque in his neighborhood on the city’s western edge, where many other Somalis live.
Columbus has the second-largest Somali population in the U.S. behind Minnesota’s Twin Cities, estimated at 13,000 to 40,000.
The mosque’s director, Horsed Noah, who came to the United States in 2000 from Somalia after years in refugee camps, said he wasn’t familiar with Artan, who graduated with honors from Columbus State Community College before transferring to Ohio State.
Thousands of Muslims, mostly from Somalia and other East African countries, attend services on busy days, Noah said.
Noah said he mentors young people at the mosque, which has programs to prevent self-radicalization and help Somali parents communicate with their children as they assimilate to life in America. He said his biggest job is protecting youths from attempts to radicalize them and to help them see themselves as Muslim-Americans.
“To make sure that they have this feeling that this is home is one of my primary concerns, and to feel that they are as American as everyone else, because most of them grew up here,” Noah said.
Kevin Stankiewicz, who interviewed Artan for Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, in August, said he was sitting by himself waiting for a class on his first day on campus. Stankiewicz described Artan as soft-spoken and kind, recalling his biggest concern about being new to the school was about where he should pray and how it would be accepted.
Associated Press writers Kantele Franko in Columbus and Tami Abdollah in Washington contributed to this report.