• Kyodo

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An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for a 17-year-old boy from the town of Osafune, Okayama Prefecture, in connection with the previous day’s fatal bludgeoning of his mother and an assault on four members of his high school baseball team, police said.

About 80 investigators are looking for the boy, whose whereabouts is unknown.

The woman, who was not identified, was found by her husband at around 5:40 p.m., bleeding from head wounds, investigators said. She was taken to a hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

Earlier Wednesday, the school called police and said the boy had attacked several students with a baseball bat at around 4:35 p.m.

Police sent to investigate found that four first- and second-year students — all baseball team members — had been injured.

One of the four, a second-year student who had reportedly bullied the suspect, is in serious condition and is only semiconscious. The three others suffered injuries to their shoulders and arms, police said.

They said the victims were practicing indoors when the youth suddenly began attacking them with a bat. By the time the school called police about 10 minutes later, the boy had fled the scene, leaving the bat behind.

Investigators found his bloodstained baseball uniform and another bat at home, suggesting the boy went home from school and bludgeoned his mother to death, they said.

It was also learned Thursday that a phone call made by school staff to the boy’s home between 30 and 40 minutes after his rampage at the school went unanswered, suggesting his mother had already been attacked by that time.

Investigative sources said they suspect the youth went straight home from school by bicycle and used a different bat to assault at his mother. They estimate that it takes the boy about 30 minutes by bike to go home from school.

An autopsy showed that the woman died almost instantly after being hit in the back of the head several times with a blunt object. When no one responded to the call to the house at around 5:20 p.m., the school contacted the boy’s father at work. The father arrived home about 20 minutes later, only to find his wife dead.

Police sources said the youth had frequently been bullied by junior members of the team. Team members said violence often broke out between second- and third-year teammates, and third-year students were often beaten by the junior students.

“The boy (sought by police) had been beaten often by younger team members since the beginning of this year,” one team member said. School authorities, however, denied he had been bullied.

According to team members, the second-year student now in serious condition told the suspect Tuesday, “Other third-year students all have their hair close-cropped. Why don’t you?”

Wednesday’s incident reportedly began after the second-year student began harassing a first-year student to cut his hair. Japanese high school and junior high school baseball players often sport short haircuts.

Shiro Kunimasa, the principal, told a news conference Wednesday evening that the boy was an ordinary student who was quiet and never missed classes or was late. Classmates said they noticed nothing strange about him during classes that day.

On Thursday morning, the school canceled all classes and held a student meeting to explain what had happened.