By Mitch Smith and Richard Perez-Pena
At least eight people were injured and one suspect was shot dead Monday on the campus of Ohio State University, prompting a massive police response and calls for students to shelter in place and “Run Hide Fight.”
By late morning, officials said the scene had been secured, though parts of campus remained closed and classes were canceled for the rest of Monday.
The episode was reported near Watts Hall, a building at the heart of the university’s sprawling Columbus campus that houses materials science and engineering programs. Ohio State officials originally made reference to an “active shooter,” and heavily armed SWAT teams could be seen making their way up a stairwell of a nearby parking garage before taking two people away in handcuffs.
University leaders later said the suspect died from a gunshot, but it was unclear whether the attacker had used a gun. The victims’ injuries “include stab wounds, injury by motor vehicle and other injuries that are being evaluated,” said Benjamin Johnson, an Ohio State spokesman. “Facts are still being verified,” he said.
A law enforcement source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to release initial information, said a suspect ran a car into a group of people and jumped out with a knife before being shot dead by police. Terrorism had not been ruled out.
The university’s instructions – “Run Hide Fight” – stem from a public awareness campaign that is used in cities, universities and even by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes those instructions on its “active shooter preparedness” webpage. Ohio State University includes it in its own page on active shooting situations.
A spokeswoman for the Columbus Division of Fire said eight people had been taken to the hospital, seven stable and one in critical condition. Officials at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said four of the wounded were being treated there, none of whom had life-threatening injuries.
During the chaos, students huddled in residence halls and classrooms, and some took to Twitter posting photos from inside barricaded classrooms.
Haylee Gardiner, a sophomore, said she was on her way to a chemistry lab when the attack happened.
“I saw a bunch of people running and when they were running they were screaming and yelling,” said Gardiner, who scrambled to a residence hall for shelter. “And then all of a sudden, I heard four or five gunshots.”
The FBI, through its office in Cincinnati, said it was “assisting” the campus police. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said agents from its Columbus office were responding to the shooting.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio posted on Twitter that he was praying for people on campus, whom he encouraged to “be safe” and “listen to first responders.” Kasich also postponed a public appearance planned for Monday afternoon.
– Alan Blinder, Jess Bidgood, Camilla Schick, Michael Huson and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.