COLUMBUS — At least one local Ohio State University student was in class and close to the site where a man plowed his car into a group of pedestrians on campus and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday before he was shot to death by a police officer.
A morning of confusion and conflicting reports began with the university issuing a series of tweets warning that there was an “active shooter” on campus near the engineering building and that students should “run, hide, fight.” The warning was apparently prompted by what turned out to be police gunfire.
Josh Tidd, of Lima, a sophomore at OSU, was in a physics class only about a quarter mile from the incident. When police officers shot the suspect, later identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, he was only 135 yards from Tidd’s classroom. Artan was a Somali-born legal permanent resident of the U.S.
The Buckeye Alert system at the campus sends texts to phones and flashes the alert on operating computers across the campus. Tidd said he was in a physics class where they were preparing to watch a video when the alert flashed on the computer that was preparing to show the video.
“It kind of popped up like a pop up ad,” Tidd said. “It was yellow and right away people began mumbling.”
Tidd said the room was locked and students moved into a back room of the lecture hall. A heavy book case was moved against the door.
“Students began texting and tried to find out what was going on,” Tidd said. “I had Wi-Fi and was able to listen to what was going on on the police scanner.
Tidd said the alert came out less than a minute after the incident had started. He said he did not hear the gunshot when the officer fatally shot the suspect.
“Right after the notice we heard someone crying in the hallway and we thought it might be related, but it wasn’t,” Tidd said.
Jessica Armstrong, of Lima, also a sophomore at OSU, was in her dorm when the incident took place. She was scheduled to go to class at about 10:20 a.m.. The incident was first reported at about 9:56 a.m. and classes were canceled on campus for the remainder of the day. Garrett Thomas, of Lima, also a sophomore at OSU, said he had just returned to his dorm when the alert was sent. Adam Henderson, of Wapakoneta, also had a class at 10:20 a.m. when he received the alert.
“I stayed in my dorm and began to contact friends around campus to make sure they were all right,” Henderson said. “I stayed in my dorm the whole time. From there we could see a SWAT team searching the Lane Avenue garage that they had surrounded.”
Thomas said respondents reacted immediately.
“You generally feel safe here and officers are always present,” Thomas said. “I don’t think there is any thing they could have done to prevent this tragedy. They were very quick in getting the alert out to prevent this from being worse.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.