COLUMBUS - Monday should have been a day for reveling in the weekend win by Ohio State University's football team and cramming in last-minute work on assignments neglected over the Thanksgiving break.
Instead, the morning descended into chaos as an attacker -- at first wrongly described as an active shooter -- rammed his car into pedestrians and then wielded a butcher knife, injuring 11 before police say an officer ended the rampage with a hail of bullets.
Students on campus said the chaos evaporated almost as quickly as it unfolded. They credited a quick response from responding police officers, the cool reaction of campus professors and a general feeling of desensitization after years of hearing about mass shootings in all corners of the country.
"The professors took it really calm and locked all the doors," said sophomore Sahil Shah, who had been sitting in his lecture in McPherson Chemical Laboratory, just behind Koffolt Lab and where the suspect reportedly was fatally shot by an officer, when the situation unfolded.
"I feel like it's just another day," Shah said. "This literally can happen anywhere."
Not that campus life immediately returned to normal. Shah's Organic Chemistry class flicked on CNN to watch the situation unfold as the campus was on lockdown. Once the lockdown was lifted and students dismissed, remaining Monday classes were canceled as authorities tried to make sense of the attack and its motivations. Classes are expected to resume Tuesday morning.
The ordeal started just before 10 a.m. when the suspect allegedly rammed his Honda Civic into a group of pedestrians near 19th Avenue and College Road. He then allegedly pulled the butcher's knife from his vehicle and attacked passersby. In all, 11 people were transported to area hospitals with injuries described by officials as not life-threatening.
Police said the suspect was shot dead by a responding officer within a minute of the initial dispatch. Witnesses said a campus text alert followed within two or three minutes after that.
'Everyone's definitely rattled'
Evan Cramer was in the 18th Avenue Library on Ohio State’s campus Monday morning. It was about 10 o’clock, he remembered. He was studying and about to leave for his class at 10:10.
Then a female student came rushing into the library.
“Screaming, couldn’t tell if she was laughing on crying, hysterical,” said Cramer, 19, a 2015 Wyoming High School graduate. He is a sophomore majoring in finance and pre-med.
His answer popped up 2 minutes later on his phone. The university had sent an alert. Active shooter. Stay put. Take refuge.
His class was in Smith Lab, in the same quad as Watts Hall, near the intersection of Campus and Woodruff.
About two and one-half hours later, Cromer stood with a couple of friends, looking down Campus, past dozens of police cars with swirling red-and-blue lights and seemingly miles of yellow police tape.
“Everybody’s definitely rattled and on edge,” he said. “It’s the first morning back to class. Everybody was in good spirits after the game Saturday.”
The game was Ohio State’s double-overtime football victory over hated rival Michigan.
Katie Bush-Glenn, an academic advisor in the Chemical Engineering department, said she was on the sixth floor of the chemistry building when the attack occurred.
"I saw a gentleman running in front of our building with a knife, and I heard screaming and yelling, which I assume was the police officer telling him to stop," Bush-Glenn said.
Then she heard shots. She looked out a window and saw a man sprawled on the ground below.
The building was locked down within a minute, she estimated, and remained so for about an hour. Bush-Glenn said she wasn't worried for herself but she did worry about the students outside.
"I'm sad," she said. "Sad for the students more than anything, because I want them to feel safe."
'I still feel safe'
By mid-afternoon, it was hard to tell much was amiss on campus, save for a few police cars and clusters of media along 19th Avenue in front of Curl Hall, a dining facility. A blue tent remained just east of Koffolt, where the alleged suspect was shot. Some students gathered to watch the police work, but most who walked by seemed more focused on their cellphones.
Carissa Kussmaul, a freshman, was among few students outside inspecting the scene. She shrugged off safety concerns.
"I still feel safe. It was over so quickly," she said, before heading back home to work on assignments due Tuesday.
Junior Michael Potraz said the incident was more inconveniencing than concerning. Monday marked the first day of class after a short Thanksgiving break.
"We were getting ready to get back into the routine," Potraz said. "You never think anything is going to happen here."
He said the university's quick response and social media alerts helped him avoid the attack area. The first message, sent just after 10 a.m., told students to find shelter and "Run Hide Fight" -- instructions that are standard protocol in active shooter situations. The directive means to run and evacuate if possible; hide if fleeing is not an option, and fight the attacker as a last resort.
University officials said the instructions for an active shooter likely were triggered by the responding officer's gunfire rather than a false report of the attacker being armed. It was still an appropriate response to the dangerous situation, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said.
"Anytime you hear shots, especially in a confined area, you don't know where they come from because they reverberate and echo," Jacobs said. "That's appropriate. It's not inappropriate to get that information out there if it protects people."
Nikhil Tharak had been walking near Koffolt when the gunfire prompted him to take cover inside the building. He said he wasn't allowed to leave, so he pulled out his smartphone and shot video through a window of the motionless body on the sidewalk.
"The moment I came in front, the guy was already dead," Tharak said. "He got put down by the police real quick."
Tharak's video shows officers inspecting a man on the sidewalk near a white sheet that had briefly covered his body.