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Guam police beef up security to assure tourists

Kyodo

Police on the Pacific island of Guam have beefed up patrols in the wake of the Feb. 12 rampage by a 21-year-old local man at a key tourist spot that left three Japanese tourists dead and 11 other people wounded.

Guam police Chief Fred Bordallo Jr. said in an interview Wednesday that more personnel have been deployed in the Tumon area to conduct patrols from midafternoon to the early morning hours.

“The precinct commander there assured me they will be coordinating with the hotel and restaurant association and the Guam Visitors Bureau. The police can’t do it alone. We always need the community’s help,” Bordallo said.

Of the 306 officers with the Guam Police Department, 36 are assigned at the precinct that covers the crime scene area, Bordallo said.

Bordallo said the intensification of the security measures was the police department’s own initiative.

“We’re confident that with the strategic presence our department has initiated in terms of increasing police presence and coordinating with private security and organizations down there, our tourists are going to be protected and they’re going to be safe. And we’re really making an intensive effort to ensure that,” Bordallo said.

In an earlier interview, Antonio Muna of the Guam Visitors Bureau expressed hope that tourists from Japan will continue to visit Guam despite the tragedy. Japan has been Guam’s No. 1 tourism market for many years up to 2012, and tourism is the island’s No. 1 industry and source of employment.

Bordallo said the intensified security measures will also benefit tourists from South Korea, Taiwan and other points of origin, as well as locals.

Bordallo said showing more police presence is only normal following an “anomaly” like last week’s vehicular and stabbing attack.

Meanwhile, Bordallo said the investigation against the assailant, Chad Ryan De Soto, is continuing with the support of the FBI.

“The FBI is assisting us because they know that the next step we’re looking at, and the complexity of this, is this individual’s mentality,” Bordallo said.

He added that terrorism and the direct targeting of Japanese nationals have already been ruled out as possible motives in their initial investigation.

The objective of the continuing probe, in tandem with the FBI, is to have additional “investigative information that gives a little more background” of De Soto, said Bordallo.

Court documents allege that after his arrest, De Soto stated that he “intended on hurting as many people (as possible) with his vehicle initially and subsequently with his knife.”