OSU: "No evidence of a firearm" in attack; Update: Suspect was Somali refugee

Near the end of our live-blog thread on the attack at the Ohio State University, we began to get hints that the “active shooter” situation might have lacked an actual shooter. Sure enough, the media briefing from police acknowledged that — other than the police officer shooting the attacker — there was no indication of a firearm being used. The lone attacker used a car and a butcher knife instead, and so far it appears that his will be the only death to result from this bizarre attack:

Note that police are taking care to use the word yet, which is … a pretty good practice, as we’ve learned from other emergency situations. He might have had a firearm with him, but so far, there’s no indication that it was used to shoot anyone. Yet.

So what actually happened? OSU president Dr. Michael Drake gives a pretty concise description of events. As it turns out, the whole thing was over before the “shelter in place” order went out — although there was no way for law enforcement to be sure of that at the time:

There will be a lot of criticism about the use of the term “active shooter” to describe the situation at OSU, but some of that will be overblown. According to the briefing, the OSU police officer called it in as a shooting, and that certainly would have prompted the active-shooter alerts from OSU. The media reports noting that were therefore accurate. If other people started jumping to conclusions, that’s not entirely the fault of the media — although perhaps some of them did the same thing. CBS, for instance, had an extended discussion about “active shooter” alerts as a sign of the worsening times with a professor who was on lockdown on the campus. It might have been better to wait for more information before having that chat, in retrospect.

So who was the attacker, and what was his motives? OSU didn’t have much to say about that yet, except to state the obvious — it was premeditated and deliberate. We don’t know his name or his background, but suffice it to say that OSU is taking a keen interest in all of these points … as the FBI will, presumably.

Update: NBC News reports that the suspect was an 18-year-old refugee from Somalia:

The suspect’s name was not released, but law enforcement officials told NBC News he was an 18-year-old Ohio State student, a Somali refugee who was a legal permanent resident of the United States.

The motive was unknown, but officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.

Some have noted the parallels between this attack and one that took place in Minnesota earlier this year. They certainly might have had the same motivations.

Update: The Daily Mail notes parallels to another attack almost exactly a year ago, and others:

Last November Faisal Mohammad, 18, stabbed four people at the University of California, Merced, before being shot dead by cops. He was carrying an ISIS flag in his backpack

ISIS terrorist Monamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel used just his truck to kill 84 in Nice by plowing into Bastille Day crowds earlier this year

Wasil Farooqui allegedly tried to behead a man in Roanoke, Virginia, and then stabbed a woman, shouting Allah Akbar. He had previously tried to travel to Syria ‘for terror training’, according to the FBI. He appeared in court on November 21 and waived a preliminary hearing

The FBI considered the Merced and Virginia attack as ISIS-inspired. We can take a guess on this one too, but it’s probably best to wait for the FBI to check out his connections. YMMV, however.

Update: My updates disappeared from this post for a while, but they’re back now. OSU has identified the attacker, according to NBC:

Law enforcement officials told NBC News the suspect’s name is 18-year-old Abdul Artan, a student at the university. He was a Somali refugee who left his homeland with his family in 2007, lived in Pakistan and then came to the United States in 2014 as a legal permanent resident of the United States, officials said.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023