The Somali refugee behind Monday’s horrific attack on the Columbus campus of Ohio State University had been profiled by the school’s student-published newspaper three months earlier, and spoke freely about the intolerance he has faced as a Muslim American.
Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 20, was interviewed by Kevin Stankiewicz, a reporter for The Lantern, on August 23 — the first day of the fall semester.
Artan told Stankiewicz he had just transferred from Columbus State Community College, and discussed the uneasiness he felt praying at his new school.
“We had prayer rooms [at Columbus State], like actual rooms where we could go to pray because we Muslims have to pray five times a day,” Artan reminisced. “There’s Fajr, which is early in the morning, at dawn. Then Zuhr during the daytime, then Asr. I mean, I’m new here. This is my first day. This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray.”
Artan told Stankiewicz he had wanted “to pray in the open” on the OSU campus, but didn’t, at first.
“I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, at a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them uncomfortable.”
Stankiewicz interviewed Artan soon after the new student had just finished with his prayers.
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“I was kind of scared right now,” Artan admitted. “But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
According to authorities on Monday, Artan drove a silver Honda Civic into a group of pedestrians before getting out and cutting multiple victims with a butcher knife at about 10 a.m. He was dead not even a minute later, when Officer Alan Horujko fatally shot him.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to [Horujko],” OSU’s Director of Public Safety Monica Moll said. “He did a fabulous job today.”
Other officials praised Horujko, who is 28, as “outstanding,” and noted that many more than the nine injured could have been hurt if it weren’t for the officer’s fast response.
Authorities confirm that 10 people were injured during Monday’s incident, and all were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. One of the victims is listed as being in critical condition, while the others are expected to make full recoveries.
Artan was a young Somali refugee who was a legal, permanent resident of the United States, according to police.
OSU students were alerted to “run, hide, fight” by the school’s emergency management department at 9:56 a.m. on Monday. The shelter in place was eventually lifted less than two hours later, at 11:14 a.m.
Classes on the Columbus campus were canceled for the rest of the day, and OSU said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, “Our top priority remains the safety and security of our campus community. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families.”