SENDAI – A police officer was fatally stabbed at a police box in Sendai early Wednesday by a man who said he had come to hand over some lost cash, the police said. The attacker was shot to death by another officer.
The incident occurred at around 4 a.m. at the Higashi-Sendai police box in the Miyagi Prefecture capital, the police said.
Hiroaki Seino, a 33-year-old senior officer, was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital. A 47-year-old police sergeant, who was in a separate room, heard someone shouting angrily and found Seino and the attacker drenched in blood.
The sergeant warned the man to drop his weapons and shot once, but as the man continued to approach him, he fired twice more, according to the police.
What appeared to be a kitchen knife and a toy gun were found at the scene. The man never took possession of Seino’s gun.
The police said the suspect is Yuta Aizawa, a 21-year-old university student from Sendai.
The Miyagi Prefectural Police said the officer’s use of a gun was “appropriate.” Four officers were on duty at the police box at the time of the incident, they said.
Seino joined the police force in October 2013 and had been stationed at the police box since April last year, according to the police.
With a junior high school located near the police box, local residents expressed shock that such an incident could occur in their largely residential area.
A 77-year-old woman who lives nearby said the officers at the police box always greeted her.
“I felt secure because the police box was close, but I never imagined something like this could happen,” she said.
Teachers at the junior high school accompanied students on their way to school in the morning. The vice principal expressed dismay at the crime, saying the school had relied on officers at the police box for students’ safety.
The incident is the latest in a string of attacks at police boxes this year. In June, a former Self-Defense Forces member stabbed a police officer to death at a police box in the city of Toyama and fatally shot a security guard at a nearby elementary school with a gun he took from the officer.
In April, a police sergeant was shot and killed by a fellow officer at a police box in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture.
An official at the National Police Agency said Wednesday’s incident was “malicious” in nature because the attacker appeared to masquerade as an ordinary citizen visiting the police box.
“In this case it was difficult to protect the safety of the police officer,” the official said.
Following the Toyama incident, the NPA decided to introduce a new type of gun holder — designed to make it more difficult for attackers to access officers’ guns — in the current fiscal year, ahead of the previously planned rollout in fiscal 2020.