National / Crime & Legal

Police officer and school security guard killed after man steals officer's gun in Toyama

Kyodo, Staff Report

A 21-year-old suspect killed a policeman in the city of Toyama on Tuesday after stabbing the officer, stealing his gun, shooting him and then fatally gunning down a security guard at a nearby elementary school, police said.

Keita Shimazu, a former member of the Self-Defense Forces from the town of Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after being shot by another police officer who rushed to the elementary school in response to the incident. He was seriously wounded and taken to a hospital.

Shimazu is also alleged to have attacked and injured a police counselor who tried to stop him at the police box where the incident began.

The incident occurred at around 2 p.m. when Shimazu entered the police box located about 900 meters from Toyama Station and stabbed chief officer Kenichi Inaizumi, 46, stole his gun and then shot him, police said. Shimazu is then alleged to have gone to a nearby elementary school and shot and killed Shinichi Nakamura, 68, the security guard at the school’s main gate.

Toyama police say the attacker had three knives.

The police said Inaizumi was stabbed about a dozen times and died of hemorrhagic shock.

The suspect apparently fired multiple shots as Nakamura, who was found lying on the ground near the school gate, had gun wounds to his head and left shoulder, the police said.

According to an eyewitness account, the suspect was arrested on the premises of Okuda Elementary School after he was shot. Students were inside the school at the time of the attack.

Shimazu showed his weapons to the two police officers who arrived at the scene and confronted them before he was shot, the police said.

When Shimazu entered the school grounds, students were warned not to leave their classrooms.

At around 2:30 p.m., the police informed the municipal board of education that a man carrying a knife was roaming around the school.

Teachers then escorted all the students to the gymnasium and they stayed there until the incident was over. Teachers held brooms and sticks as they guarded the entrances to the gym, according to the school.

“It is regrettable that a police officer on duty at a police box had his gun taken. We also pray for the souls of those who passed away,” Tomohiro Yamada, director of the Toyama Prefectural Police, said at a news conference.

The stolen gun has been retrieved, Yamada said.

“We will thoroughly investigate how this incident happened and prepare measures to prevent a recurrence,” he said.

According to SDF sources, Shimazu joined the Ground Self-Defense Force in March 2015. He worked at Camp Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture until he quit in March 2017.

Residents of the quiet neighborhood expressed shock at the outburst of violence. A 76-year-old woman who has lived nearby for about six decades said she went outside after hearing cracking sounds and saw a police officer running by shouting that gun shots had been fired.

“I had been … at ease because there’s a police box near here,” said the woman, who was told by another officer to stay indoors.

An 81-year-old man said he was watching television at home when he heard a loud noise that sounded like glass breaking.

“I never imagined that a shooting incident would happen here,” he said.