Ohio State officer who thwarted 2016 terror attack speaks out for the first time

Posted at 6:49 PM, Nov 27, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When Ohio State University officer Alan Horujko saw Abdul Razak Ali Artan's Honda Civic mount the curb outside Watts Hall and strike a group of students the morning of Nov. 28, 2016, he assumed a medical emergency had caused the driver to lose control. He called ambulances to the scene and approached the car to see what he could do to help.

The driver's side door was open, he discovered on arrival. No one was inside. 

And a second wave of screaming was rippling through the nearby crowd of pedestrians.

"I drew my gun and said, ‘What's going on?'" Horujko said in an interview released Monday evening. "And someone said, ‘He's got a machete.'"

Eighteen-year-old Artan's two-pronged, Islamic State-inspired attack on his fellow Ohio State students would end with his own death by Horujko's hand, but not before he injured 11 bystanders with car and knife. Horujko, who had been on the scene responding to a gas leak inside Watts, said the two-minute encounter felt like hours inside his head. 

"I yelled after him multiple times, you know, ‘Drop the knife, drop the knife, drop the knife,' but he never looked back at me, never acknowledged me," Horujko said. "He was actively going up and down the street, running away from me, chasing anybody he could reach, slashing pretty wildly at anybody."

Horujko gave chase -- "I just thought, ‘I have to stop it. I'm the only one here.'" -- but knew he couldn't take a shot at the knife-wielding Artan in an area crowded by fleeing students, faculty and university workers. He continued to pursue Artan on foot, still shouting demands that he drop the knife, and radioed other officers for help. 

"At that point, I remember him looking at me, looking back at the people he was chasing, looking back at me again, and making a longer turn and running straight at me," Horujko said. "I don't even remember the sound of my own gun going off. … All I knew was people were being hurt and I didn't like that."

Artan died on the scene, and Horujko's intervention earned him recognition for "heroic actions," "humanitarian concern" and "selfless initiative" from the Ohio state congress, Gov. John Kasich and others, but he declined to speak publicly about the incident until Monday. 

Ultimately, Horujko said, he credited the outcome of the November 2016 incident to his OSU Police Department trainers. Any praise he received for 

"They like to push it back on me all the time," he said. "I push it right back on those guys."