WASHINGTON - Former and current military members, including an Ohio National Guard member, stood guard outside of at least one Ohio State University classroom Monday to protect fellow students after the campus went into a lockdown when a Somali-born student went on a car-and-knife attack.
Nearly 100 graduate students, including 10 military members, were about to leave a classroom just before 10 a.m. inside the Fisher College of Business when the campus-wide alert informed students to stay put due to an active-shooter situation.
Initially, many students did not take the announcement seriously until emergency vehicles began racing by the windows. At that time, the military members came together and proceeded to secure the area outside the classroom.
"It was more of putting us in the position that if anybody were to come into the building, we were the first people that they would meet," Daniel, a sergeant first class with the Ohio Army National Guard, said Tuesday. "We were at least ready to defend our classmates if we had to."
Citing privacy concerns, Daniel asked that his full name not be included in this story.
Moments before, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, had rammed his car into a group of pedestrians a few blocks from the business college before he jumped out and began to stab people. The attack left 11 injured before an Ohio State University police officer could shoot the suspect dead.
The motive behind the attack is still under investigation and police have not ruled out it being a terrorist act.
Due to the size of the classroom, Daniel said they couldn't barricade all the doors effectively during the lockdown, so they decided to keep an eye on the hallways and stairwells.
"Instead of barricading the doors, we basically had concentric circles of human security," he said.
The lockdown lasted about three hours and although some students were scared, Daniel said it wasn't necessarily a traumatic experience.
"I think everyone kept a good attitude," he said. "People were still making jokes and talking about the Ohio State-Michigan [football] game." Ohio State had beat its arch-rival Michigan on Saturday.
Several security measures - from rifle-toting police officers to armored vehicles on campus - could be seen outside the windows.
"There's a lot of people here trying to make sure that this situation ends well," Daniel recalled students telling each other as they notified friends and families that they were safe. "At that point, I think people were a little more reassured that everything was going to be OK."
But if something did happen, Daniel said, he and the others were ready.
"As soon as they said active shooter, I think every veteran in the classroom was probably like, 'Well, they're going to have to come through me before they hurt any of our classmates," he said.