In the most deeply divided of political environments, even something as universally horrible as a man driving a car into a crowd before launching a knife attack can spur a bitter divide.
Before anyone knew the identity of the man who plowed into a crowd at Ohio State University Monday — and with information still unknown about the event itself — Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, tweeted that he was “deeply saddened by the senseless act of gun violence at Ohio State this morning. Praying for the injured and the entire Buckeye community.”
Rep. Niraj Antani, an Ohio House Republican from Miamisburg. fired back: “But not saddened by the senseless act of machete or car violence?”
Although initial reports referred to an “active shooter” at Ohio State, police later confirmed that the suspect drove a car into a crowd and then jumped out with a butcher knife. He was shot and killed by OSU police.
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs say there is no indication the suspect had a gun.
Kaine later tweeted: “Updated reports say attacker used a vehicle & knife. Horrifying & senseless. Relieved the scene is secure & praying for victims’ recovery.”
President-elect Donald Trump posted a Facebook message saying, “Watching the news unfold at Ohio State University. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the students and administration. Excellent job by the Ohio State University Emergency Management Team (OSU_EMFP) in immediately notifying students & faculty via social media with the message: ‘Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.’ THANK YOU to all FIRST RESPONDERS who reacted immediately and eliminated the threat on campus.”
Most of the reaction mirrored that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich: “My thoughts are with the victims of the attack right now,” he said. “I am grateful for the professional, coordinated response from first responders whose efforts helped this effectively contain this incident before further harm could be done.”
Kasich spoke with OSU President Michael Drake and pledged whatever help is needed from the state. Several other lawmakers in Columbus and Washington, D.C., offered the full support of their offices and staff.
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber said in a statement, “We have great faith that law enforcement will help bring justice to the people responsible for this cowardly attack.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “I want to send a clear message to the university and the entire community that the city of Columbus will devote whatever resources are necessary to work closely with President Drake and his team to make sure everyone feels safe in this neighborhood and throughout our great city.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called the attack “horrific” and said his office stands ready “to help in any way possible.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also weighed in. “Today’s assault at The Ohio State University shook our entire community,” Brown said. “My office is here as a resource for the community as we cope with today’s event.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, seemed to speak for everyone when he said, “My heart breaks for everyone in Columbus today. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and first responders of this horrifying and senseless act of violence at The Ohio State University.”