National / Crime & Legal

Kawasaki knife attack suspect may have checked site four days before

Kyodo

The assailant in a knife attack in Kawasaki last week may have scouted the scene four days before he went on the stabbing rampage that left two dead and more than a dozen others injured, investigative sources said Monday.

Images of a man who appears to be Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, were captured on the morning of May 24 by security cameras installed around the crime scene, as well as at nearby Noborito Station and Yomiurilandmae Station on the Odakyu Line, which is the closest station to his home in the city’s Asao Ward, the sources said.

Police also discovered that Iwasaki bought the 30-centimeter-long knives used in the attack from a mass merchandise retailer in Machida, Tokyo, in February, so they suspect the crime was planned some time earlier.

Iwasaki attacked a group of Caritas Elementary School students and their parents at around 7:40 a.m. on Tuesday May 28 with knives in each hand, then killed himself shortly after.

The attack, which lasted less than 20 seconds, caused the deaths of Hanako Kuribayashi, an 11-year-old student, and Foreign Ministry official Satoshi Oyama, the 39-year-old father of a student at the school.

Iwasaki also injured 18 others, mostly schoolchildren.

On May 24, the day Iwasaki is believed to have been caught on camera, was the last regular school day before the attack. Many schoolchildren are believed to have been waiting for school buses near the site on that day, just like the morning when the attack took place.

On May 25, a Saturday, the school held a sports event and as a result was closed through the following Monday.

The assailant’s motives remain unclear. Police searched his home last week but found no clues.

The suspect lived together with his uncle and aunt, both of whom are in their 80s. Though Iwasaki received an allowance from the couple and ate food that was prepared for him and left in the refrigerator, he rarely spoke to them face to face or communicated with them and mostly stayed in his room. Iwasaki apparently did not possess a computer or smartphone, according to police.