Four people killed, including 2 police officers, in rare violent incident in Japan
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By Mari Yamaguchi
Police said they arrested a man Friday who had holed up in his father’s house armed with a rifle and a knife after allegedly killing four people, including two police officers, in central Japan.
TV Asahi showed the man with his hands on his head walk out of the house and be ushered toward a police vehicle.
Masanori Aoki, 31, a farmer, was arrested by police under a court warrant on suspicion of murder in Nakano, a city in Nagano prefecture.
Nagano prefectural police chief Iwao Koyama offered condolences to the victims and said the loss of two police officials is “extremely regrettable.” He noted that the suspect allegedly shot to death a police officer in the left chest with a hunting rifle.
National Public Safety Commission Chairperson Koichi Tani told a regular news conference Friday that the suspect had licenses for multiple hunting and air guns authorized by the prefectural public safety commission and his license renewals have been properly made.
Tani said police are investigating his gun usage records and that they plan to take necessary safety measures based on investigation results.
Police said the house was owned by his father, a local politician. Koyama said two women who escaped while the suspect was holed up are the suspect’s mother and aunt and that they were uninjured. NHK said that the mother told police that the attacker was her son and that his father was chairman of the city assembly.
Japanese media quoted neighbors described the suspect as a quiet person and that they were not aware of any family feud.
Police said earlier that two police officers were shot by the suspect when they arrived at the scene after receiving an emergency call saying a woman was stabbed. The officers were apparently without bulletproof vests.
On Friday, Nagano police chief said the suspect allegedly stabbed to death the 66-year-old woman with a survival knife.
A witness told NHK on Thursday that a woman fell while being chased by the suspect, who then stabbed her with a knife and shot at two police officers as they arrived at the scene in a patrol car.
The woman and the two police officers were pronounced dead at a hospital. An older woman, who was injured but could not be rescued because she was near the suspect, was found dead early Friday, police said.
During the standoff, TV footage showed police wearing bulletproof vests and carrying shields, with an ambulance nearby. Police sealed off a 300-meter (330-yard) radius around the house, and city officials urged people in the quiet farming neighborhood to stay home or stay at an evacuation center, where about 80 people reportedly took shelter.
Violent crimes are rare in Japan. It has strict gun control laws and only a handful of gun-related crimes annually. But in recent years, there have been some high-profile cases involving random knifings on subways and arson attacks, and there is growing concern about homemade guns and explosives.
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