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Pedestrians mowed down on sidewalk

Driver in Nagoya rents car, runs over 13 people

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

A man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after intentionally steering his car onto a sidewalk and hitting 13 pedestrians near Nagoya Station, the police said.

“I tried to kill people with the car,” Ryota Onogi, 30, was quoted as telling investigators after he was apprehended following the 2:15 p.m. incident.

According to the police, the car got onto the sidewalk after making a left turn at an intersection and bowled over pedestrians for about 35 meters before crashing into a tree and stopping, the police said.

Onogi was caught on the spot.

The most seriously wounded of the 13 victims was a 22-year-old man who sustained a broken hip, police said. The others had minor injuries.

The car was going about 35 kph to 40 kph when it plowed into the crowd, the police said.

Onogi, an unemployed resident of Nagoya, rented the car from an agency some 400 meters away from the crime scene at around 2 p.m., just 15 minutes before the rampage.

An employee at the rental agency said Monday that Onogi rented the vehicle for six hours, the shortest period available. “There was nothing strange about the suspect,” the employee added.

The rampage left residents and acquaintances in the neighborhood in disbelief.

“He was not the kind of person who would cause such an incident,” a neighbor said. “He would always greet people.”

Onogi’s house in the neighborhood in west Nagoya appeared empty Sunday, with the drapes shut and garage door closed. No one answered the bell.

Sources familiar with the investigation said Onogi’s father is a superintendent at Aichi Prefectural Police headquarters.

Yasuei Kitazawa, Onogi’s third-year classmate in junior high school, said he hadn’t had any recent contact with him but noted he “never would have expected him to cause such an incident.”

Onogi was rather quiet in school, Kitazawa, 30, said.

Another former classmate said Onogi got good grades but he did not stand out.

A 57-year-old neighbor said she heard Onogi had lived with his family earlier but was living alone before the rampage.

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