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Nine Injured In OSU Campus Attack; Victims Stabbed And Injured By Motor Vehicle; Possible Motive in OSU Attack; Quick Thinking Officer Stops Attack; Terrorism Motive Possible. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired November 28, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CRAIG STONE, DEPUTY CHIEF, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: -- pedestrians and then get out and start striking them with a knife. That's -- that was on purpose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the suspect say anything to the police officers?
STONE: Ongoing investigation. As far as we know, there was one suspect. And that suspect is DOA. There were rumors of a second suspect. And we searched in and out of the garage and we could not find another suspect. We believe there was one suspect and we have that suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there a fire alarm pulled before this and that's why some of the students were out on the sidewalk?
STONE: Earlier today, there was a gas leak in the building and so Columbus fire was on scene to check on that. And it was a valve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which building?
STONE: That was, I believe, Watts Hall. The one at West 19th and College.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, do we think that has any role in this at all?
STONE: Still under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you say about the injuries? What type of injuries?
STONE: Maybe Andy could speak a little more about that.
DR. ANDREW THOMAS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, WEXNER MEDICAL CENTER: Sure. There were multiple injuries related to lacerations or cuts, most likely, as the chief said, from the stab wounds from a butcher knife. Then, there were a number of people that had orthopedic and other soft tissue injuries related to being hit by the car, initially.
It's our understanding from the other hospitals and it's our knowledge here that none of the individuals appear to have life-threatening injuries at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would they have to have surgery? THOMAS: One had -- actually two. Two --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.)
THOMAS: If they had surgery. Yes, two have completed surgery at this point, mainly for orthopedic issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they student, faculty, staff?
THOMAS: We're going to release more information with the university at a later time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk how you called for staff to come to the hospital. Talk about that. We saw them arriving to -- sleeves rolled up, ready to go.
THOMAS: So, we have a process that's actually university-wide. When the buckeye alert goes out, we jump into action. The active shooter protocol is something that went out across campus.
But also, we internally have what's called a code yellow or a disaster drill. We immediately made phone calls to key individuals, both the emergency department, our surgeons, our nurses, our respiratory therapists and people just descend.
We train for this. We work with the other hospitals in the city and the central Ohio trauma system to train for exactly these types of events. But I can't tell you how proud I am to work here at the university and to see my colleagues come together in a moment that all of us would really hate to ever have happen on any campus much less our own.
But it was great to see the response and I'm glad people were not any further injured than they were.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Dr. Drake could come back to the mic. If you could talk a little about, you know, the mood on campus now. And students just came back from Thanksgiving break. This has got to be a tough time. We could see it on the faces of students here.
DR. MICHAEL DRAKE, PRESIDENT, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, this is obviously a tragic situation and something that, as Andy was saying earlier, we prepare for every year. Our students, our faculty, our staff were all trained because we've seen things like this happen around the country.
And the best that we could do is be prepared and respond appropriately. I did want to say that we were so grateful that our police were there on the scene and were able to neutralize the situation, that the injuries were not more severe.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Unfortunately, we've lost our connection with Ohio State University. I think we've just reconnected. Here's the president of Ohio State University, Michael Drake. DRAKE: -- regardless of circumstances, that we're here for them and
we want to do everything we can to help them have a full and complete recovery as quickly as possible. And to just let them know that we care about them as people as well as patients.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you assure students and parents that when campus reopens, they'll be safe when they come back here?
DRAKE: You know, we all do what we can to be as safe as we possibly can. And we all have the normal safety protocols in place and we all live with the fear that things like this can happen to us. And so, by being diligent and focusing, we believe we can be as safe as possible.
And, again, with our safety personnel and officers were here to respond and help protect us, we're pleased this was no more serious than it could have been.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you plan to do about classes? Did you cancel classes?
DRAKE: We cancelled classes today. This was quite disruptive this morning. And we wanted -- even though the situation appeared to be neutralized relatively rapidly, we wanted to give the police a chance to begin their investigation. And so, we held people in place until we felt that the campus was entirely safe and secure. Police said that was the case.
But now that we've disrupted the schedule for half a day, it's emotionally and quite frightening. And so, we wanted to say that this is a good day to take a step back from their classes, sort of, like, get our footing and we'll be open again tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can somebody speak to the nature of the alert that went out that said run, fight, hide or something to that affect. Is that a normal alert?
DRAKE: Yes. So, there's -- we have a protocol that we rehearse for what one should do if one engages with an active shooter.
[13:05:04] And what we had heard -- first of what I had heard is that there were shots fired on campus and, therefore, the active shooter protocol was going to be put in place which is to do as much as possible to protect people which is to not engage, to find some place to be safe, and to hide in place while the professionals arrive to neutralize the situation.
So, the first thing, our first order of business then was to make the campus safe and secure. And that happened, as you heard, within minutes. And then, we investigate and when we have information, it lets people know that it's safe to resume normal or most normal activity as we allow that to go -- that information to be shared. And we do that through text messaging and spreads rapidly throughout the campus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you repeat your name? I'm sorry.
DRAKE: Yes, Michael Drake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Run, hide, fight is an ongoing training program you go through?
MONICA MOLL, PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Run, hide, fight is an ongoing training program. And so, when you see that reference in an alert message, that rings a bell with members of the campus community that have been through the training.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk about -- there was a student hiding. So, something must be getting through. And the medical professionals talked to that. There was a girl hiding inside.
MOLL: The public safety team has done a lot of training across the community. And, again, that's why they use those key words in an alert to remind folks of what their options are for any violent intruder. Whether it someone with a gun or a knife like today, those same principles apply. So, those are kind of key words that we use to remind people of their training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mayor Ginther, if you could just say a word -- what words did you have to say for the community?
ANDREW GINTHER, MAYOR, COLUMBUS, OHIO: Well, obviously, this is a city made up of great neighborhoods. And we're in one of our greatest neighborhoods.
And so, we're here to show our support and solidarity with President Drake and the entire university community. Lift up, you know, our thoughts and prayers of the victims of this senseless tragedy. And grateful for our first responders that were on the scene and helped to ensure that the situation did not escalate dramatically.
I'm here with Chief Jacobs and Chief O'Connor who wanted to send a clear message to the university and to the entire community that the city of Columbus will devote whatever resources are necessary and work closely with President Drake and his team to make sure that everyone feels safe in this neighborhood and throughout our great city.
And grateful, again, for Dr. Thomas and Dr. Retchin and the amazing folks here and at the other hospitals that are treating some of the victims here today.
But I want everyone in Columbus to continue to lift up in our thoughts and prayers of the victims and their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Drake, talk to us about -- you know, what will you say to the parents of students here? I have two college-aged students so I know how difficult it is being away from them. Talk to the parents and the families of what they can expect and what you're doing to keep their students safe. And also, talk to their emotional and social needs?
DRAKE: Well, as -- again, I'll repeat what the mayor said. We're pleased that no one was injured more seriously than they were. And, you know, we all know we live in an open society where these kinds of tragedies happen someplace it seems on a far too frequent basis.
So, what we do on the campus is everything we can to make the campus safe. We have multiple trainings in place and things to make this campus as safe as it can be. And we're pleased with how well those work. And we're pleased with how people have responded to this tragedy today.
And we'll continue to work with your students, our faculty and staff, to make this the safest place that we can make it. And that's our work on a daily basis.
And I'll say the cooperation that we have with the city, with police, with fire, with all -- it makes it -- it makes our job that much easier.
But we live in an unstable world, unfortunately, and so we have to continue to do our best to protects ourselves against these sorts things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief Jacobs, could you talk about the tools and methods used to try to assist OSU Police in finding out a motive?
KIMBERLY JACOBS, POLICE CHIEF, COLUMBUS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Certainly. There's -- every aspect of this investigation will be mulled over. And we've got our federal partners, state partners and local to try to identify any potential motive behind this attack.
Obviously, with the purposeful intent that was noticed driving on the sidewalk, we're going to look at it from the potential that it was planned with regard to multiple injuries. And we will continue to work with all of those agencies just to try to determine what was being talked about. Whether it was on a device, on online, whatever else. We'll continue to look at that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us, were there any -- what you've seen so far, if it looks like it could potentially be a terrorist act?
JACOBS: Well, I think that we have to consider that it is that possibility. You know, we had an attack earlier this year with a man with a knife causing multiple injuries. So, we're always aware that that's the potential and we're going to continue to look at that. That's why our federal partners are here and helping.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about the shooting rumor, the active shooting? The initial report said there was a shooter and not someone with a knife.
[13:10:04] JACOBS: Well, with the amount of people that were here on campus, it was very chaotic. And I'm very proud of the students and the faculty and the staff at OSU to do exactly what they needed to do. And that was to be -- get someplace safe.
We know that people did not try to be a part of that scene. They tried to get away from it which is the right thing to do. So, I'm very, very pleased with the reaction of everybody. We should not ever take for granted that the best thing to do is protect yourself. So, I do believe that the response was appropriate and we couldn't have asked for more, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no indication of a gun right now?
JACOBS: There's no indication of a firearm being used by that particular suspect at this point in time. But we haven't searched the vehicle yet. That's to be done. So, we don't know what we'll find inside the vehicle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any indication of multiple suspects at all?
JACOBS: No indication for sure. Reports of that are being checked out. But we have a lot of witnesses to interview with regard to the aggravated assault that the suspect did. And we'll continue to find out whether or not there were anybody else was involved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you and campus police step up more police presence here on campus and throughout the city?
JACOBS: That'll be up to OSUPD to decide about campus. We don't have any information that tells us that there's, you know, a conspiracy going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we understand there were at least two people taken out of the parking garage in hand cuffs. Can you address who they were? Were they just bystanders, suspects?
JACOBS: Well, we believe that people, you know, fled the scene and might have gone to their vehicles. And, therefore, they might have hunkered down when they realized that the police were going to search that building. It was pretty obvious that we were going to do a search. And until we know what their motives are, their intentions are, we're going to treat them as potential suspects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they still considered potential suspects?
JACOBS: Not that I know of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What more can you tell us about the one suspect who is deceased now? I mean, is it a student? A male? Female? Age?
JACOBS: Don't have enough information yet to release that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I'll ask the question to just clarify the number of people who were injured. Someone was hiding and had later come to the hospital. So, does that mean there's 10 injured in total? Or is that person included in the nine?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's included in the nine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's lead investigator right now? Is it Columbus Police or is it OSU Police?
JACOBS: Columbus Police is investigating the aggravated assault caused by the suspect and the officer-involved shooting. Very, very -- as chief Stone said, I think you might have heard the pride in his voice that we're very fortunate that an officer was on-scene so quickly and was able to deal with the situation so fast.
MOLL: We would like to tell students to please contact their loved ones and the same with factuality and staff. They know they're safe but their family members are probably seeing this on national media and do not know their safe. So, that would really help us out if they reach out and contact their loved ones. Let them know that they're OK. That would be a great assistance to us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you been able to reach victims' families to let them know what happened?
MOLL: I believe most of the victims have probably had a chance to do so. Would you say so?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't guarantee all have. But most of the victims were awake and talking when they were here and I would expect have had some kind of contact their family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can any of you speak as to when the roads around campus, specifically 315, will see normal traffic flow?
JACOBS: They probably opened that up a while ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's back open? What about here on campus?
JACOBS: The only thing that I think we're holding now is College and Woodruff and 19th down to -- that way. I believe Lane Avenue should be open soon if it's not already.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take one more question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief Stone, this might be for you. Did the officer warn the suspect that they were about to shoot? Was there any warning do you know?
STONE: As far as I know, he engaged the suspect and commands were not followed and the officer did what he had to do to stop the threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other than the attacker, was anybody shot?
JACOBS: Not that we know of, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. We'll have another update later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We appreciate it. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right. So, there you have the latest. Very disturbing information coming in from Ohio State University. Nine people were injured, one critical. The suspect driving a car up on a suspect, simply ramming into people. This suspect then took out a butcher's knife and started slashing individuals. That suspect was shot and killed by a local law enforcement official.
We want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.
We're getting new information. I want to bring in our panel of experts. Our CNN Producer, Shimon Prokupecz has been digging into this. He's joining us. Art Roderick, our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, a former assistant director for the U.S. Marshals' office. Our Law Enforcement Analyst, former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, and our CNN National Correspondent Deborah Feyerick who's been covering all of this from New York.
Shimon, first to you. You're getting information. We heard local police, at this news conference, say this was done on purpose. Someone deliberately took a vehicle, drove up to a crowded sidewalk, started ramming into people. The vehicle then stopped. The individual got out with a butcher's knife, it's been described, and started slashing people.
This was done on purpose. We have to consider the local law enforcement authorities saying this could have been a terrorist act. What are you hearing?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: So, Wolf, I can certainly tell you that the FBI and other law enforcement people are right now treating this as if it was a terrorist attack. Absent any other information, absent any other indications. But certainly the way in which this attack was done, the vehicle used to strike pedestrians, people on the sidewalk, and then the attacker coming out of the car with a knife, all are indicators of some kind of a terrorist attack. Whether it was ISIS-inspired or inspired by some other group, that's still something that needs to be figured out. They have not ruled that it is a terrorist attack, but they have not ruled that out as well. And certainly there are a lot of indicators to say that this is - will likely become a terrorist attack.
They've also identified the man they believe is the attacker. They have not shared his name with me. But sources that I've talked to said they're now going through his phones and they're going through stuff to try and figure out, you know, perhaps, you know, who was he communicating with? And they believe he is from the area right now.
BLITZER: From which area?
PROKUPECZ: From the Ohio area is all we really know. We don't know exactly where specifically, but certainly within that area. And certainly it's raising a lot of concerns. We haven't had this kind of attack in quite a while. And the FBI will likely wind up taking the lead on this, if this is a terrorist attack.
BLITZER: If it is, because there is a history of terrorists elsewhere around the world taking a vehicle, ramming into a crowd, and then using a knife, if you will, to start killing individuals. Whether in Israel or elsewhere in the region, there's a long history of that. ISIS, for example, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, they have basically said online, if you don't have a gun, get a knife. If you don't have a knife, use a car. You're familiar with all of that?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. And certainly there has been calls for that, you know, for the last year, year and a half, two years since these attacks have been going on. So, yes, you know, this sort of ISIS has been telling their followers, trying to motivate people, inspire people to get out there, do these kinds of attacks. You don't need a very complicated kind of attack where, you know, you set bombs. Just go out and do whatever you can to sort of attack people.
And this right now certainly looks that way. But they're still running down leads and trying to figure out exactly, you know, what inspired this guy.
BLITZER: Let me check in with Deborah Feyerick, who's been looking into all of this.
What are you hearing, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing is, is that it was the quick thinking of an officer who really mitigated the injuries that could have occurred. We are told that the campus police chief basically saying that really within less than a minute after this attacker drove his car on to the sidewalk hitting several pedestrians, a police officer did respond, ordered him to - gave some verbal commands allegedly to drop the weapon and then when that didn't work, he opened fire basically killing the attacker.
And it was really that timing because you had somebody on-scene very quickly who was able to engage the attacker and neutralize the situation. We are told that there are nine injured. Two of them underwent surgery. Two of them apparently who - there were four with stab wounds, four who were injured by the vehicle and another woman walked in after it was all over. Again, she sort of took cover and then went to the hospital is what we're being told.
But the Columbus police chief does say that they are working very closely, as we heard Shimon say, with the FBI to determine exactly who this person is, identify the motive, identify whether he was in contact with anybody, and they're going through all of the electronics to see whether there were any links, whether he may have been looking at any kind of social media that ties him back to a terrorist group. But all of that is under investigation. But as you mentioned, Wolf, this had all the earmarks of some of the attacks that we have seen over the past couple of months.
BLITZER: Yes. And Tom Fuentes is our senior law enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director.
It sounds - it at least gives the appearance and local law enforcement suggesting could have been a terrorist act. It was done on purpose.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: No, that's true, Wolf, and that's why they're going to withhold the identity of this person until they get a chance to search his residence, go through his computer, his phones, any social media postings, interview neighbors, friends, colleagues, whoever, to try to determine if this person actually said or posted a motive prior to this, which would indicate possibly whether he's inspired by ISIS or al Qaeda or whether he's, you know, mentally deranged. We don't know -
BLITZER: Or direct - or specifically directed to go ahead and commit an act. They don't know yet. Presumably that's why they're not releasing the name of this individual because they want to get as much information as possible.
FUENTES: Yes, they want to get to his residence before the media descends on it and the neighbors go to it, the family go to it. They want a chance to have a head start and do much of the investigation before it becomes more public.
BLITZER: Art, very quickly, I want to get your thoughts on what we're learning right now because this is clearly very disturbing. [13:20:04] ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Oh, I mean
immediately when this went down, you have to think of all possible options of motive behind this particular shooting, or this stabbing, excuse me. And, initially, you know, we had heard about gunshots. Now we hear it's a vehicle and a knife, which immediately you have to jump and take a look at terrorism inspired or terrorism directed.
BLITZER: All right, stand by.
There's more we're following right now. Getting more information on the very disturbing breaking news we're following from Ohio State University. It could have been a terror attack there today. We don't know for sure. Local law enforcement saying we have to consider it, consider that it could have been a terrorist act. It was done on purpose. We're watching this. We'll share more on the breaking news right after this.
[3:25:05] BLITZER: We're back.
We're following the breaking news out of Ohio State University where an incident occurred potentially - potentially a terrorist incident - involving a driver who drove his vehicle up a sidewalk into a crowd at Ohio State University. The vehicle then stopped. He emerged from the vehicle with a butcher's knife and starting cutting or slashing individuals. We're told ten people injured, one critical. The suspect was found very, very quickly by a local law enforcement official, who shot and killed the suspect.
We're getting more information. We just heard at a news conference, local law enforcement asked whether this could have been a terrorist act. The official said, quote, "I think that we have to consider that it is." "It was clearly done on purpose," the official added. Shimon, you're getting more information on this. Nine people, I should
correct that, nine people now injured, one critically.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So right now what we know is that the suspect, the attacker, the FBI is running his name down. They know who he is. And they believe he's from the area. And now they're sort of sorting through his history.
There's nothing to indicate that he was on anyone's radar before this attack. But certainly they're going back and looking through documents, looking through the database to see if he comes up anywhere.
But they have a pretty good lead in that they know who he is. And certainly knowing who he is has raised some concerns for them. And now it's just a matter of speaking to his family and friends and trying to sort out what motivated him. And it appears that right now, just based on sort of style of this attack, that this could possibly be some kind of terrorist act.
BLITZER: An act of terror.
PROKUPECZ: An act of terror that - that this man did. And so now it's just a question of - just trying to figure out what motivated him and who - perhaps was he inspired by somebody or was he communicating with someone overseas who told him to go ahead and do this?
BLITZER: Or was he simply some sort of, Art, lone wolf, if you will, who - who may have decided this was a good time to do something like this. Tell us why they won't immediately release the name. If they have the name, why wouldn't they - the suspect, obviously, is dead, but why wouldn't they want to just quickly release the name, the identity, and let people find out who did this?
RODERICK: Well, I - they're obviously digging into this background. And the last thing they want is press and public to come around and start, oh, I know that specific individual. I know his mother. I know his family members. So they're trying to keep that part of it clean to that they can dig into family members, associates. They have his vehicle. I'm sure they're scrubbing the vehicle now at this point forensically to figure out what's in the car. But also they want to get to a social media websites, to get the computer out of his apartment or home and scrub that device down also, and his cell phone, which he probably did have on him at the time he was shot.
BLITZER: And if it is an act of terror, Tom, the FBI will immediately take the lead in this investigation, but they would get the assistance of state - Ohio State officials, local law enforcement as well.
FUENTES: They'll get the assistant of everybody. But you're right, they would take the lead as the lead agency to investigate terrorism. But, you know, at this point, you have a joint effort by all of the local police and the campus police. You have also a campus officer involved shooting, which would explain the Columbus or - either Columbus Police or Ohio State Patrol taking the lead on investigating that part of the shooting because it's officer involved. An officer did kill somebody. So you have that part of it going. But as far as whether or not this turns into a terrorist investigation or at this point they're considering it that, yes, the FBI would work it and everybody would provide assistance.
BLITZER: And can you reminder our viewers the history of using a vehicle to go ahead and kill people. We know it happened in Nice, for example, in France. There was a vehicle that drove up into that crowd. Remind us what the - some of these terrorist organizations have said online about committing acts of terror with a vehicle and with a knife, a butcher's knife, if you will?
FUENTES: Right. From the beginning, ISIS, back in 2014, was putting out broadcasts worldwide, you know, 40,000 tweets a day, and messages a day, saying to their followers, if you don't know how to operate a firearm or make an explosive, use a car, run people down, use a knife, use a machete, use a hammer, use a hatchet. So we've had all of the - and we've had those kind of attacks all over the word since that time.
One of them specific - one of their postings specifically said, in the summertime in Washington, D.C., people at restaurants, or out on the sidewalk, drive up on the sidewalk and run them down and you'll probably kill somebody important. So we've had that kind of threat information from them going back now more than two years.
BLITZER: It's a - Art, it's a very disturbing development if in fact, as we just heard from Ohio State local law enforcement officials in Columbus, Ohio, "I think that we have to consider that it is a terrorist attack."
[13:30:03] RODERICK: And the minute they say something like that, it not only kicks in what's going on there in Columbus, but it kicks in nationwide and internationally. I'm sure that the Joint Terrorism Task Force is pumping out information to all the other --