COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A grand jury on Wednesday cleared a police officer who fatally shot the man responsible for a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University last year.
At issue were actions taken by OSU officer Alan Horujko in November when he shot and killed 18-year-old attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Horujko killed the Somali-born Artan after he drove into a crowd outside a classroom building on Nov. 28 and then attacked people with a knife. Thirteen people were injured in the attack.
Several witnesses reported that Artan did not respond to Horujko’s orders to drop the knife and instead began running toward the officer, who was forced to fire five times, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien in announcing the grand jury results.
“The subsequent police investigation confirmed that this was an act of terrorism by a lone wolf and no other co-conspirators were identified,” O’Brien said.
Horujko is back on regular duty, the university said. The university is grateful for Horujko’s quick response and to all other first responders that day, said Monica Moll, the university’s public safety director.
Horujko’s “quick and effective response ended the tragic incident within seconds and almost certainly prevented additional injuries,” Moll said Wednesday.
Authorities have said they believe Artan’s attack was partly inspired by an American-born cleric killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Beyond that, little was known of Artan’s motives.
He graduated with honors from Columbus State Community College a year ago, earning an associate of arts degree. A video of his graduation ceremony showed him jumping and spinning onto the stage and smiling broadly, drawing laughs, cheers and smiles from graduates and faculty members.
He transferred to Ohio State to get his bachelor’s degree. He gave an interview to the university’s student newspaper in August, saying he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried how he would be received.
The FBI said Artan was not known to counterterrorism authorities beforehand.
Sometime the morning of the attack, Artan bought a knife at a nearby Wal-Mart and posted a series of Facebook rants showing he nursed grievances against the U.S., according to Columbus police and the FBI.
After arriving on campus, Artan drove his car over a curb and into a crowd of people, then got out and started slashing at people with a knife. He was shot to death almost immediately by Horujko.
In those Facebook posts, Artan railed against U.S. intervention in Muslim lands and warned, “If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State group.
Artan came to the U.S. in 2014 as the child of a refugee. He had been living in Pakistan from 2007 to 2014.
Following the attack, Ohio State began beefing up its emergency alert system and streamlining the way officials communicate in a crisis after the attack exposed some flaws in the text-message procedure.
Some campus contractors and visitors weren’t aware of campus-wide “Buckeye Alerts” to seek shelter during the attack, according to a university review of that day.
In addition, too much time passed between the 10 alerts, which were issued over a period of about seven hours, according to the report. The initial alerts also lacked specifics about the attack, the report said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins