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Student journalist who interviewed Ohio State attacker speaks up

This August 2016 file photo provided by TheLantern.com shows Abdul Razak Ali Artan in Columbus, Ohio. (Kevin Stankiewicz/TheLantern.com via AP, File)

The student journalist who had interviewed Ohio State attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan today wrote his first-person account of that encounter for the Washington Post.

The journalist, Kevin Stankiewicz, writes for Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, and profiled Artan for the paper's "Humans of Ohio State" feature.

The two had a 20-minute conversation about Islam, western misconceptions about Pakistan and his difficulties finding a place to pray on the Ohio State campus.

Stankiewicz said he was surprised to find out that Artan had been the person behind the knife attack that injured 11.

"I thought about Artan and his story a few times since late August, but nothing prepared me for the Monday phone call I received at 1:31 p.m. It was one of my journalism professors, and mentor, Nicole Kraft. She called to tell me that reports of the attacker’s identity had surfaced from media reports; it was Artan. ... My heart sank; that thoughtful, engaged student I had met on the first day of classes had snapped. He had tried to kill people."

Stankiewicz added that he didn't get any sense of the potential for violence in his conversation with the student.

"There is nothing I heard from Artan that day that would have ever made me think he could be responsible for the brutal, senseless attack that would come just three months later. Nothing to indicate his thoughtful frustrations and fears would lead him to drive a car into a crowd of people on campus, that he would lash out with a knife at students and faculty, that he would make national news for what many believe was a terrorist attack. That he would be dead, shot by a police officer trying to prevent him from killing others."

Still, the student journalist said he doesn't regret the way he wrote the article, though he struggles now to reconcile the man he met with the man who committed the atrocity.

But what he said about his wishes for open-mindedness and unity make little sense now given what happened on Monday, the terror he inflicted. His comments to me about his fears of a nation divided by hate and lack of understanding are now chilling, and what happened Monday has shaken me, as it has much of the Ohio State community.

(h/t: Washington Post)

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