GUAM – Two Japanese women were slain and 11 of their compatriots were wounded Tuesday night in a stabbing spree on Guam perpetrated by a man after he crashed his car into a convenience store in a popular tourist resort.
The dead were identified as Rie Sugiyama, 28, and Kazuko Uehara, 81, the Foreign Ministry said in Tokyo. They were among the 15 who were taken to a hospital after the rampage. Some were hit by the car and others were stabbed. Two of them were later found unhurt, leaving the number of the injured 11.
The wounded included an 8-month-old boy, a 2-year-old girl and a man now in critical condition, according to local police and hospital officials.
Arrested at the scene was Chad Ryan Desoto, 21, who faces murder, attempted murder and other charges.
Desoto reportedly drove his Toyota Yaris onto a sidewalk in the Tumon tourism area and struck nine people before crashing into an ABC Store near the Outrigger Guam Resort, which is popular with Japanese tourists.
He then allegedly got out of the car and randomly stabbed people around him.
He has been charged with two counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder and 13 counts of aggravated assault, Guam police spokesman A.J. Balajadia said.
Desoto was scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge at the Superior Court of Guam on Wednesday to be formally charged.
He was quoted as telling the police he wanted to injure as many people as possible, according to local prosecutors. Investigative authorities declined comment on whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A woman who was at a nearby cafe with friends told the Pacific Daily News she saw the car plow through the driveway and into the convenience store at the resort. Ashley Quichocho, 18, of Dededo said the driver got out, ran up to bystanders and began stabbing them.
“He started stabbing someone, and I started freaking out,” she said. “He was just running back and forth stabbing people.”
Quichocho said she ran to the second floor of the hotel with other guests to escape.
Tour operator H.I.S. Co. said eight of its customers were hospitalized after the incident, and that some had broken bones.
“It’s very regrettable that some of our customers became involved in such a tragedy during travel they’d been looking forward to,” an H.I.S. official in Tokyo said.
Guam, a U.S. territory and tropical island three hours south of Tokyo by air, is heavily dependent on tourism — particularly from Japan — for its economy. It’s well known for scuba diving, white beaches and historic World War II battle sites.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference Wednesday, “There are many people traveling overseas, and I expect them to pay attention to their safety.”
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo released a statement saying, “this is not the kind of thing that happens in our community.
“We are shocked and grieving with the families of those who were injured and who died,” Calvo said. “Guam values its long-term relationship with the Japanese people and we promise you that we are committed to ensuring the safety of all visitors.”
Mark Baldyga, chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau, stressed the incident was unusual.