OSAKA — More than 250 riot officers and 10 patrol cars are keeping a 24-hour vigil over Osaka’s Konohana Ward, where three residents have been shot and wounded since the end of last month.

On Wednesday, a man barged into Hair Salon Sakai and shot shop owner Kazuo Sakai, 36, then escaped in a car.

Sakai is the third resident of Konohana Ward to become the victim of an armed man using a .38-caliber revolver.

Konohana residents have been actively trying to banish gangsters from the area since about two years ago, when a Yamaguchi-gumi-linked gang tried to open an office there.

About 20,000 stickers supporting the antigang movement had been distributed within the community, and the three residents all had the sticker on their doors, police said.

Most Konohana residents have removed the stickers since Wednesday, and many stores are closing their doors by 7 p.m., they said.

Parents and teachers at an elementary school near the crime scene are escorting students to and from school, and are encouraging them not to go out at night.

The car apparently used by the gunman was found Thursday in a parking lot about 300 meters from the barbershop, police said. A .38-caliber revolver believed to have been used in the crime was found hidden between the front tire and the car frame, they said.

The car had been lent to a former member of an underworld group, they said.

By Thursday, police had found another car in Konohana Ward that contained the same threatening letters with gang emblems found Monday and on March 28 at two previous crime scenes. The car had been reported stolen, they said.

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