He grew up in Somalia but left with his family in 2007, settling in Islamabad, Pakistan, according to law enforcement officials.
According to Khan, Artan completed an advanced program at a top high school. He prayed five times a day and played cricket.
“He was a very, very nice person,” Khan said.
After seven years in Pakistan, Artan and his mother and his siblings came to the U.S. as refugees. His father lives and works in Dubai, Khan said.
According to Catholic Charities records, the family came to America through Texas, staying in a temporary shelter in Dallas for 24 days before relocating to Columbus, Ohio, a city with a sizable Somali community.
Neighbor Louann Carnahan described Artan as very friendly.
“He always asked me how my day was going. He always said, ‘Hello, let me help you,'” she said, adding that he didn’t seem capable of such an attack. “I don’t even understand why he did it.”
In Ohio, Artan attended Columbus State Community College, graduating cum laude in May 2016 with a two-year associate’s degree. Video from the graduation ceremony shows him beaming as he collects his diploma in cap and gown.
He continued his studies by enrolling at Ohio State in the fall. On his very first day, he drew some attention — giving an interview and getting photographed for a feature called “Humans of OSU” in the campus publication The Lantern.
He told the reporter about his anxiety over finding a place to pray that day.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of 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,” he said.
“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.”
Artan’s Facebook page was a mélange of personal news and current events. There were pictures of him looking happy: posing with a man in a Ronald McDonald costume, smiling with his sister on graduation day.
There were posts that touched on the crisis in Aleppo, Syria and the plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Burma. Two days before the attacks he posted about the death of Fidel Castro, calling him “a hero for many and a villain for many.”
“There is no denying of the fact he was responsible for the killings of many innocent people,” he wrote.
Then, the morning of the violence of OSU, a couple of hours before he posted his rant, a cryptic post: “Forgive and forget. Love.”
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