• Kyodo

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A 52-year-old gang member has been arrested over the fatal shooting of a policeman here Wednesday, police said Thursday.

Kazuo Shimada shot Sgt. Morio Okubo, 51, of the prefectural force, in the side at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at a taxi company in Utsunomiya, police alleged.

Okubo died about two hours later, becoming the first officer to be fatally shot since 1995, according to police.

Okubo and four other officers were dispatched to Toya Taxi’s head office after Shimada fired a sawed-off shotgun during a dispute with one of its drivers over money, police said.

Shimada, who had lent one of the drivers some money, had threatened the previous day that he would go to the taxi company because the repayment was late, police sources said Thursday.

When police tried to subdue him, Shimada opened fire, wounding Okubo, police said, adding that of the five, Okubo was the only officer not wearing a bulletproof vest.

After Okubo was shot, the other officers arrested Shimada on the spot for attempted murder and violation of laws regulating the possession and use of firearms. The attempted murder charge was later changed to murder upon Okubo’s death.

Shimada allegedly barged into the taxi firm at around 4 p.m., demanding to speak with those in charge.

He then fired a shot near the garage, investigators said.

A male employee rushed to a police post about 300 meters away to report what was happening, they said.

Okubo had just been transferred to the Utsunomiya Chuo Police Station from his previous post as of the end of March.

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