The stabbing spree that claimed the lives of two Japanese tourists and left 11 other Japanese wounded in the Guam town of Tumon on Tuesday shocked the normally peaceful resort.
“I’ve been living on Guam for 10 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this. We hardly see big crimes here,” said Seigo Yoshida, a 42-year-old Japanese resident who runs a restaurant near the crime scene.
Tumon is located on Guam’s western coast and is a busy town that boasts resort hotels and shopping centers popular with tourists.
“I am really sorry for the victims and am worried that tourists might stop coming here (because of the incident),” a 37-year-old Japanese restaurant owner said.
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo stressed in a statement Wednesday that Guam is a safe place for visitors.
“For your comfort I have increased (the) police presence throughout the visitor district even further,” Calvo said.
Guam sees about 1 million tourists every year, roughly 80 percent of whom are Japanese.
Recent years have also seen an marked increase in the number of Japanese couples marrying on Guam. According to the Guam Tourism Bureau, more than 9,500 such couples tied the knot there each year, making Guam the second-most popular overseas place among Japanese for nuptials after Hawaii.
About 2,500 of Guam’s 170,000 residents are Japanese.
According to one Japanese resident of Tumon, most of the people near the scene at the time of the incident were Japanese.
Local media said a car driven by 21-year-old suspect Chad Ryan Desoto drove onto a sidewalk in front of a hotel, running over nine pedestrians and finally crashing into an ABC store at around 10 p.m.
Desoto then got out the car and began randomly stabbing passersby. While many ran away, the suspect was overpowered by others and handed to police.
The scene was littered with plastic bottles and paper cups as rescue squad members and police desperately tried to save the injured.
“I took a pulse of an elderly injured woman, but she died. Another woman had two deep stab wounds,” one man who aided rescue workers at the scene told local media.