The nation was still reeling Monday from the deadly mayhem waged the day before by a 25-year-old man who ran down several people with a truck and then proceeded to fatally stab others in Tokyo’s densely crowded Akihabara electronics district, killing seven.
It was learned that several posts on a mobile phone Web site foretold the deadly stabbing spree.
The descriptions and the time-stamps of the messages, which were apparently posted starting early Sunday and continued until minutes before the stabbing spree, closely followed the developments.
The suspect, Tomohiro Kato, 25, a temp staff worker from Shizuoka Prefecture, has admitted to investigators that he posted the messages on the Web site, and the Metropolitan Police Department was trying to confirm the link between the crime and the posts, police sources said.
Seven people died after being hit by Kato’s rented truck or stabbed with the dagger he allegedly wielded, and 10 others were wounded in the rampage.
Police and hospital officials identified the seven fatalities as Mai Muto, 21; Mitsuru Matsui, 33; Takahiro Kawaguchi, 19; Naoki Miyamoto, 31; Kazunori Fujino, 19; Katsuhiko Nakamura, 74; and Kazuhiro Koiwa, 47.
Of the seven, at least six had been stabbed and two had been hit by the truck, which was rented in Shizuoka Prefecture. The 10 injured people included a 53-year-old traffic police officer who was stabbed in the back while helping people hit by the truck.
Kato was quoted as telling police he went to Akihabara to kill people, saying he was tired of life and tired of living.
He told investigators that he decided to carry out the random attack “two to three days earlier,” and that he chose Akihabara because he had been there before and knew that many people would be on the street, according to the police.
The first of the Web posts was time-stamped 5:21 a.m. Sunday and read, “I will kill people in Akihabara, have a vehicle crash and, if the vehicle becomes useless, I will use a knife.” It was followed by one, among others, that read, “Getting caught along the way would perhaps be the worst scenario.”
A 6:31 a.m. post said: “It’s time. I’ll go.”
Kato said he rented the truck from a rental car shop in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, at around 8 a.m. and drove to Tokyo via the Tomei Expressway from the interchange in Susono, where he lives, according to police.
He reserved the truck Saturday evening by phone, saying he needed it for moving.
A 7:47 a.m. post said, “No postponement because of rainy weather.” It was drizzling Sunday morning in Susono and areas around the city.
A 9:48 a.m. post said, “Rest after entering Kanagawa” en route from Shizuoka to Tokyo.
Subsequent posts include “Just arrived in Akihabara” at 11:45 a.m., and, “Today, it’s a ‘pedestrians’ paradise,’ isn’t it?” in reference to Sunday being a vehicle-free day on Akihabara’s main thoroughfare.
A post made 10 minutes after noon said, “It’s time.” Kato reportedly drove the truck into pedestrians and jumped out stabbing people on the street at around 12:30 p.m.
Police said they were investigating the motive and details of the attack.
It was also learned Monday that about 3,000 messages — also believed to be from Kato — had been posted on the same mobile phone Web site from several days earlier.
One message posted the morning of June 3 said, “Should I run down people with a car because everybody makes a fool of me?” A subsequent post said the author had spent “eight years of life as a loser every since I graduated from high school.”
A post Thursday said, “My work clothes were gone when I went to work. Do they want me to quit? I understand.”
On Friday, a post said the writer traveled to Fukui Prefecture and “bought five knives.” A post made Saturday said the writer visited Akihabara — the scene of the carnage the following day — to sell some “software” to “make money” before renting the truck.
According to witnesses of Sunday’s stabbing rampage, an officer at a nearby police box who saw the attack hurried to the scene and found Kato wielding the knife.
The officer initially failed to get ahold of the suspect after hitting him with a baton a few times. Kato put the knife down and surrendered after the officer drew his pistol, the witnesses said.
The suspect possessed a folding pocket knife in addition to the 13-cm-blade dagger he used in the stabbing spree, police sources said.
The Akihabara district was crowded with shoppers. The scene was near the intersection of Chuo-dori and Kanda Myojin-dori, only a stone’s throw from JR Akihabara Station.