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Cops reveal what helped find machete attacker on the run

Last Updated Feb 12, 2016 6:36 PM EST

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From the front door, the man with the machete didn't have a straight path to people in the booths at the small suburban restaurant. He stepped by the welcoming greeting on the front glass, past the half-wall entryway divider and the display case of kataifi and other Mediterranean pastries.

Immediately, police said, he started swinging.

"There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman.

By the time it was over, four adults were wounded and the attacker was dead, shot by police in a confrontation a few miles away. No officers were hurt.

Columbus police identified him as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry. They didn't give a hometown for him, and his background isn't immediately clear.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS News that the suspect in the machete attack was known to federal law enforcement officials. A source says that Barry "was on our radar." But officials have not revealed why Barry was known to investigators.

After the attack Columbus Police quickly informed the FBI after getting a law enforcement computer alert tied to the vehicle Barry was driving. Sources say even though Barry was known to law enforcement there was no warrant for his arrest.

CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports it was also revealed late Friday that he was in U.S. on a green card.

The suspected attacker has a Somali background, and officials believe he may have traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2012, Pegues reports. Law enforcement is concerned that this incident has the hallmarks of the type of so-called "lone wolf" terrorist attack that they have been working to stop.

It's unclear what motivated the Thursday evening attack at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli. Columbus police confirmed they're working with federal authorities on the investigation but wouldn't give further details.

Owner Hany Baransi told The Columbus Dispatch he believes his restaurant was targeted because he is Israeli. But FBI Special Agent Rick Smith told the newspaper it's too early in the investigation to jump to any conclusions.

Police credited the employees and patrons with acting quickly and observantly to fend off the man and help authorities catch him. Some threw chairs at the attacker, who'd been there about a half-hour earlier but left after a conversation with an employee, and someone scuffled with the man before he fled in a car, Weiner said. Several people called 911.

"A gentleman came in with a machete and started hacking at people," one male witness said.

"There were tables and chairs overturned," Karen Bass told CBS. "There was a man on the floor bleeding. There was blood on the floor. It was awful. It was just carnage."

Another woman said the attacker "just started running through the restaurant." She said she ran to a nearby fast-food restaurant with her two children and hid in a bathroom there.

Minutes later, another caller reported that he'd been hit by a car in the area and that "a long weapon flew up in the air after he hit us."

Police said witnesses at the restaurant had great descriptions of the suspect's vehicle and a bit of video that provided partial license plate information. That helped authorities track down and confront the man near the large Easton Town Center shopping complex. The suspect, who had the machete in one hand and a knife in the other, was fatally shot by police after officers unsuccessfully tried to use a stun gun to stop him and he lunged, Weiner said.

Police said four people were treated at Grant Medical Center. William Foley, 54, was in critical but stable condition. Gerald Russell and Debbie Russell, both 43, were in stable condition. Neil McMeekin, 43, was treated and released.

Twelve hours after the attack, the police tape and cruisers were gone outside the closed restaurant, tucked between a cellphone store and a beer shop in a small strip mall. Overturned dining chairs and dark-stained pieces of paper towels and cloth littered the floor.

Next to the door, under the glow of a neon sign advertising gyros, remained the printed sign with the Arabic greeting: "Ahlan Wa Sahlan." Or, roughly, "You are welcome to our place."