Invited To Meet Donald Trump, At Least One Attack Victim Declined

Dec 9, 2016

On Thursday night, President-elect Donald Trump met with victims of the November 28 car and knife attack on the Ohio State campus. Although it's not known how many attended, at least one one victim, OSU professor William Clark, declined the invitation.

Clark, a professor of engineering, received a phone call on Tuesday from OSU police chief Craig Stone informing him that he had been invited to meet with Trump.

Clark was hit by the car that Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an OSU student, drove into a crowd of people outside of Watts Hall. He was among 11 people hospitalized that day, and though he was released by Wednesday, Clark is still in recovery from his injuries.

Apart from having limited mobility - he sustained deep cuts and lacerations on his legs - Clark said he chose not to attend the meeting because of Trump's initial reaction to the attack.

Specifically, he took issue with a tweet that Trump sent out that week arguing that Artan, who was a Somali refugee, "should not have been in our country."

"To me, that was overly simplistic for what may have been a much more complicated situation," Clark said. "I felt there wasn't so much positive to be gained out of a meeting like that."

In the tweet, Trump also mentioned that ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack, but the FBI says that does not prove Artan was acting on behalf of ISIS at the time. Officials say ISIS often takes responsibility for similar attacks when the assailant is dead and cannot refute the claim.

The FBI has not called the event an act of terrorism. However, investigators do believe the young man was influenced by extremist ideology.

Clark says the issue is far more complicated than Trump might suggest, especially when it comes to helping students and faculty heal from the traumatic event.

"A lot more needs to be done to help the entire community get over that than just tweeting, blaming somebody, some shadowy organization - evil as it is - for the problem," Clark said.   

Trump talked with victims of the November 28 attack in a closed meeting at OSU's Schottenstein Center.
Credit Esther Honig

After his private meeting with the victims, Trump spoke briefly with media. He called the victims and their families brave, though did not say how many he had met.

The only person he mentioned specifically was Alan Horujko, the officer who fatally shot Artan just moments after he began his attack.

"Incredible, the job done by one young gentlemen was incredible and I got to meet him and he's very brave," Trump said.