Mugger shoots subway worker at Shibuya Station, escapes

A subway station employee was shot and seriously wounded by a man at Shibuya Station in central Tokyo during Wednesday’s morning rush hour, Tokyo police said.

Shigeo Nishioka, 32, of Konosu, Saitama Prefecture, remained conscious and the injury to the right-hand side of his abdomen was not life-threatening, police said.

Investigators said they believe only one shot was fired in the incident, which took place at around 8:45 a.m.

The assailant, who fled the scene, was described as being in his 50s and about 160 cm tall. He wore a white shirt, light brown trousers and sunglasses, according to police.

Nishioka was shot near the bottom of the stairs leading to Exit No. 9 of Shibuya Station, which serves the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and the Tokyu Denentoshi Line run by Tokyu Corp.

Police said the attacker and Nishioka grappled over a paper bag Nishioka was holding, which contained his toiletries and some clothes.

Witnesses quoted the assailant as saying: “Hand it over, hand it over” before firing the shot at close range. Because no empty cartridge was found at the scene, police said they believe the weapon used was a revolver.

Investigators said the assailant, who is suspected of attempted murder for the attack, may have followed Nishioka and were analyzing footage from security cameras in and around the station.

According to subway operator Tokyo Metro, Nishioka was on his way back to the station office after completing his overnight shift. His duties Wednesday morning included manning the platforms and the ticket gates.

He was first walking back to the office with three colleagues but returned to the platform to retrieve his bag.

Two other station employees rushed to the scene after hearing the shot from the office, some 50 meters away, and found Nishioka injured, Tokyo Metro said.

Subway operations were not disrupted.

A 23-year-old man who was distributing free magazines at Exit 9 said the flow of people on the stairs had been smooth until the gunshot was heard. Then, people who looked frightened started rushing up the stairs, and he heard them saying a subway employee had been shot.

A 62-year-old office employee who uses Shibuya Station three or four times a week said: “I sometimes see trouble arising from young people who loiter around the station. I will be on my guard when using this station from now on.”

“It is shocking that in this case, it was not a gang-related fighting but a station employee who was shot,” said a 78-year-old man from Setagaya Ward. “Tokyo has become a scary place.”

A Tokyo Metro spokesman said that while there have been sporadic attacks on subway station staff by drunks, this was probably the first time an employee has been shot.

He added that he had no idea what might have led to the incident.

According to Tokyo Metro, Nishioka joined the firm in 1992 and has been working at Shibuya Station since April 1999.