7 killed, 10 injured in Akihabara stabbing spree

Kyodo News

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Seven people died and 10 others were injured after a man hit pedestrians with a truck and then stabbed passersby Sunday in broad daylight on a street in Tokyo’s busy Akihabara district.

Police arrested the man, Tomohiro Kato from Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, on the street and seized a survival knife he was carrying. The 25-year-old temp staffer at an auto component factory in the prefecture admitted to stabbing people with the knife, which had a 13-cm blade, from around 12:30 p.m., the police said.

“I came to Akihabara to kill people,” investigative sources quoted Kato as telling the police. “I am tired of the world. Anyone was OK. I came alone.”

According to the police and hospital officials, six of the seven who died were males and aged from 19 to 74. The other was a 21-year-old female.

In addition to the seven, 11 people were taken to hospital after the stabbing rampage. Of these, eight were male, including a 53-year-old traffic police officer who was stabbed in the back while helping people hit by the truck, and two women. The remaining male had sustained no injuries but had blood on his clothing.

Of the seven, at least six had been stabbed and two had been hit by the truck, which was rented in Shizuoka Prefecture.

According to eyewitnesses, a police officer at a nearby police box who noticed the incident hurried to the scene and found Kato wielding the knife.

The officer initially failed to get hold of the suspect after hitting him with a baton a few times. But Kato put the knife down after the officer drew a handgun and issued a warning, leading to his arrest, the eyewitnesses said.

The Akihabara area was crowded with shoppers as Chuo-dori was vehicle-free for pedestrians. The scene was near the intersection of Chuo-dori and Kanda Myojin-dori streets, only a stone’s throw from JR Akihabara Station.

A 19-year-old man from Tokyo’s Ota Ward said, “The man (Kato) jumped on top of a man he had hit with his vehicle and stabbed him with a knife many times. Walking toward Akihabara Station, he slashed nearby people at random.”

Shunichi Jingu, a 26-year-old self-employed man from Gunma Prefecture, who witnessed the incident, said, “It seemed that a traffic accident had happened. Then a man got out of a vehicle and began to brandish a knife.”

Akihabara is a district of Tokyo known for its electronics shops and as a center of modern culture, including manga and animations, and attracts many visitors from both Japan and abroad.

There were similar street stabbing rampages earlier this year.

In January, a 16-year-old boy attacked five people and injured two of them with kitchen knives on a shopping street in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. A man wanted by police on suspicion of murder stabbed passersby with a knife at an entrance to a shopping mall in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in March, leaving eight people injured, one of whom died later in hospital.

The Akihabara rampage also occurred on the seventh anniversary of a stabbing spree by a man at Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka Prefecture on June 8, 2001.

The attacker, Mamoru Takuma, was executed for killing eight children and injuring 15 others in that case.