A suspect is dead after attacking nine students with a car and a butcher knife in front of Watts Hall Monday morning, both Columbus Division of Police and University Police said.
Police said they have not yet identified the suspect, who was shot by an on-duty University Police officer. The nine students were taken to three area hospitals, where they were treated for stab wounds and injuries sustained from the vehicle.
Students were outside of Watts Hall after a fire alarm prompted them to exit the building onto West 19th Avenue. Ameera Khan, a third-year in material science and engineering, said students were returning to class when a gray Honda Civic sedan “screeched” around the corner from College Road. The car plowed into students on the sidewalk before the driver emerged and attacked students with a butcher knife.
“I took a step to the left, and he swerved into a group of people who were standing on the sidewalk,” she said. “I didn’t realize what was going on. I just wanted to get away from that, and my friend that I was with said he had a knife and that he was charging at people that were around the car with his knife.”
Eyewitness accounts on the scene said students began fleeing from the area before a University Police officer, who has not yet been identified, arrived on the scene and demanded the suspect drop his weapon. When the attacker did not comply, the officer shot him.
Michael Cloonan, a second-year in welding engineering, said he heard four gunshots from his classroom in Smith Lab, directly across from Watts.
According to police, there was no indication of a firearm on the scene and no evidence of a second shooter after a sweep of the area. The initial reports of a possible shooter on campus were most likely caused by the officer opening fire.
Another student in front of Watts Hall who witnessed the events, Jared Crandall, a third-year material science and engineering, said he heard the officer engage the suspect.
“I just turned around and told everybody, ‘This guy’s got a knife,’ and we all just took off,” Crandall said. “We turned this corner and all of a sudden we heard a few gunshots. We just kept going.”
The incident is currently under investigation by both police departments.
University President Michael Drake addressed the media at the Wexner Medical Center following the attack. Drake offered his condolences to those affected by the attack, and said the victims were in his thoughts, and he said the university was ready to respond.
“Let me say first I want to give our thoughts and prayers and hopes and wishes recovery for speedy recovery to all those injured,” he said. “We prepare for situations like this and always hope never to have one.”
Another press conference is scheduled for 4 p.m.