Artan was a transfer student in his first semester at the university, authorities said. His age was given as both 18 and 20 in the hours after the attack.
He and his family had fled Somalia in 2007, NBC reported, and they lived for a time in Pakistan. The family arrived in the US in 2014 as legal permanent residents, NBC reported, and Artan enrolled in Columbus State Community College that same year.
He graduated cum laude with an associate’s degree in 2016, a college spokesman said.
“I just transferred from Columbus State. We had prayer rooms, like actual rooms where we could go pray because we Muslims have to pray five times a day,” said Artan, who was identified as a third-year student studying logistics management.
“I mean, I’m new here,” he continued. “This is my first day. This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was 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, 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 feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
Surveillance footage captured Artan as he was driving on campus, and police said he was alone in the car. Based on that, they believe he was the only threat to the university on Monday, police said.
Terrorism is one of the motives under investigation, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs told reporters.
“We have to consider that it is that possibility,” she said. “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.”
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