An Ohio State professor released from the hospital Tuesday was still in his “yellow hospital socks” when he talked about the trail of blood he left behind while walking into Watts Hall after being injured in an attack he didn’t quite realize was happening.
William Clark, a professor emeritus at OSU, exited Watts Hall after a fire alarm was pulled Monday morning. Minutes later he was struck by a car driven by Abdul Razak Ali Artan and thrown into the air before landing on his back.
“When the car hit me, I really didn’t know what to think,” Clark told several dozen media members at a news conference at the James Cancer Hospital. “There was panic and shouting. At that point, I figured out it was more than just a car accident.”
Clark said he sustained a pair of 4-to-5-inch deep lacerations near his right ankle and some serious contusions to his left leg.
Clark managed to make it back into the building before he was approached by a student who told him he was leaving a trail of bloody footprints.
“I was surprised to see the cut, and I was even more surprised to see the footprints,” he said.
Law enforcement officials have not identified a motive for the violence but reportedly have suggested terrorism as a possibility.
After using a car as a weapon, Artan — a 20-year-old student who enrolled at Ohio State this fall — slashed victims with a butcher knife, keeping with tactics promoted in jihadist propaganda.
Facebook posts that were apparently written shortly before the attack show the Somali-born Artan nursed grievances against the U.S. He 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.
On Tuesday, an ISIS news agency called Artan “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”
Time to process
Clark was one of 11 victims injured in Monday’s attack. All of them are expected to survive, said Andrew Thomas, chief medical officer of the Wexner Medical Center. He did not release the names of the other victims.
This newspaper confirmed that Champaign County native Andy Payne was one of the victims. He is recovering from his injuries at his Columbus home.
“At this point we’re just thankful there are no life-threatening injuries,” Thomas said.
Clark said the attack seemed to be over within just “15 or 30 seconds,” thanks in part to campus police officer Alan Horujko, who shot and killed Artan. Clark said his daughter is friends with Horujko.
“If he was here I’d put my arm around him,” Clark said while tearing up. “He has a lot to process in the days to come. He has to live with this the rest of his life. He did the right thing.”
Clark said he canceled a Wednesday class to allow his students to process what happened. He said he probably will talk about the attack with his students when they meet again Friday. A lot of his students “were extremely distraught” at the time of the attack, Clark said.
Clark said he would tell his students that the attack cannot change what Ohio State is as an institution.
“We’re still a great university, we still beat Michigan,” Clark said. “We’re still in the top 20 of university rankings in the country and this isn’t going to change it.”
Writing on wall
Students at Ohio State coped Tuesday with the attack in several ways. In the Ohio Union, students wrote down their thoughts and feelings on a makeshift wall.
The wall was covered with messages such as “Love will always win. #PrayForOSU” and “God Loves The Bucks.”
Rania Khamees, a Muslim student from Columbus who is studying neuroscience and biology, was one of the students writing on the wall. She wrote “Take best control of two things: your heart after defeat & your brain after victory.” She said she chose to write the phrase because it “sums up the couple of days we had.”
“We had our Buckeye win and we were strong and united with that against Michigan and tragedy struck and we still remain just as strong, maybe even more supportive than before,” Khamees said.
Khamees said students are trying to figure out what to do in the aftermath of the attack: “It’s a lot of mixed emotions, you know. It does kind of have a lot of backlash on me and my community, but it’s still something I’m processing.”
At the campus Oval, community members gathered to pray, and a chalk board was set up by students to enable people to express their thoughts. On Tuesday night, a “Buckeye Strong” event was held at St. John Arena. OSU President Michael Drake was among the group of speakers.
Khamees said it is “incredibly cool” that a campus of tens of thousands can come together after an attack that shocked everyone.
“I think that says quite a bit about Ohio State,” she said. “If not everything about Ohio State.”
The prayer in the Oval was organized by Rock City Church. The Rev. Chad Fisher said it was what the community needed: “We’re here on campus today simply to lift up the people in our city in prayer. We’re here to offer people hope.”
Neighbors on edge
Artan lived west of campus in a townhome with his family. He graduated with honors from Columbus State Community College in May. Neighbors said they were shocked to find out someone who lived down the street could carry out such an attack.
Violet Owens said she recently moved to Columbus from New Jersey to get away from crime in her home state. She was dropping her husband off for work when she heard about the attack.
“I even had my mom calling me from New Jersey saying, ‘Where are you? Stay away from Ohio State today,’ ” Owens said.
Barbara Edwards, who lives down the street with her nephew, said she may have met Artan. Edwards moved to Columbus in June and said as a newcomer she frequently asked people for directions while out on walks. She said there’s a good chance she asked Artan for directions.
Edwards, originally from a small town in Arkansas, said she knew living in a big city would be an adjustment, but she didn’t expect it to include anything like what happened Monday.
“I’ve never felt like I had to run and lock the door,” Edwards said. “But this has got me feeling jittery.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.