COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A man accused of stabbing four people at a downtown office building before he was shot on the street by a police officer has been charged with four counts of felonious assault, authorities said Thursday.
John W. Mallett was armed with three knives when he entered a downtown office building that housed a career college and other offices Wednesday afternoon and stabbed four men, the first an employee of Miami-Jacobs Career College, police said. Other people intervened and took away a knife the man was using but didn't realize he had others, police said.
Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner said the attack appeared to be random. The 37-year-old Mallett has no criminal record in Columbus.
An aunt in Columbus reported to police that she thought the suspect was Mallett, Weiner said. She told police he was mentally ill and had been off his medications.
"We have no link as to why he went there," Weiner said.
Mallett lived in Nashville for 10 years until a month ago when he came to Columbis, police said.
Two of the victims worked for the college, one was a student and another worked for the attorney general's office, Weiner said.
Student John M. Desir was in stable condition Thursday, while school employee Donte Dunnagan was in critical condition.
Weiner said attorney Jeff Maloon was also in critical condition, though a message sent to employees at the attorney general's office said Maloon was alert and talking to his family.
Gerald Dowe Jr., also an employee at the school, was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. Weiner said Dowe returned to the building to help officers with their investigation.
A knife was recovered inside the school, and two knives were found near the attacker outside after he had been shot. Police wouldn't describe the knives except to say they were bigger than pocket knives.
One officer used a stun gun on the attacker at around the time another officer shot him, Weiner said.
The attacker had a knife in each hand when he went at officers, said Jim Gilbert, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.
Multiple shots were fired at the man by the officer who was closest to him, Gilbert said. The officer, who has been on the police force for 15 years, "did what she had to do," Gilbert said.
Officer Deborah S. Ayers was on her downtown patrol assignment of a year and a half when she got the call and arrived first, followed by numerous other officers, Weiner said.
Columbus officers responded within a minute of 911 calls Wednesday to a "very chaotic scene" with people screaming, Gilbert said.
"Many citizens' lives were saved today because of the quick actions, quick response of the Columbus police officers that responded," he said.
Ayers was taken to a hospital with a minor knee injury suffered as she was backing away when the attacker approached her, Weiner said.
Jason Jackson, who works at Gordon's Gourmet in the building lobby, said he heard that someone had been stabbed, so he ran out of the building. When he went back to see what was happening, he saw the attacker outside.
"He had a knife, and the police had just pulled up, and they're saying, 'Sir, you need to stop. You need to just put the knife down.' He wouldn't," said Jackson, of Reynoldsburg. "They drew guns. 'Sir, please put the knife down.' And he kind of lunged at them, so they shot him."
College spokesman Chuck Vella said everyone must sign in before entering the admissions office. He said security personnel are at every campus of the college, which has five other locations around Ohio.
The for-profit trade school offers classes in massage therapy, security and investigation, criminal justice and court reporting. It was closed Thursday.
The college is owned by Delta Career Education Corp., based in Virginia Beach, Va. A receptionist at the company on Wednesday said no one wanted to talk about the stabbings.
The company's website said it has 37 campuses and 16,000 students nationwide.