National / Crime & Legal

Suspect in knife attack that left Osaka police officer in coma sent to prosecutors

Kyodo, JIJI

Police on Tuesday sent a man suspected of stabbing a police officer and stealing his gun in Osaka Prefecture to prosecutors, a day after his arrest.

The police said Yujiro Iimori, 33, who is charged with attempted murder and robbery, attacked Suzunosuke Kose, 26, with a knife at 5:38 a.m. Sunday at a police box in the city of Suita.

The knife used in the attack had a blade as long as 15 centimeters. The police said it penetrated Kose’s lung, reaching his heart. The officer was reportedly stabbed at least seven times and remains in a coma.

While Iimori has denied the allegations, he has also blamed the incident on an illness, according to investigators. He is a holder of a mental disability certificate.

The police said that about 10 minutes before the attack, a person who gave the name of one of Iimori’s former classmates, called to report a home break-in.

The police suspect it was Iimori making a false report in an attempt to lure police officers away from the police box, according to investigative sources.

The sources said Iimori had recently approached former junior high school baseball teammates in order to find out their home addresses and other information. He had also sought to obtain a photograph of the team’s coach.

Iimori told his former teammates that he was collecting information because he hoped to organize a reunion.

Iimori belonged to a local baseball team while he attended elementary school in Suita, as well as to a baseball club at his junior high school in the city, the sources said. He later went to college in Tokyo.

A 33-year-old former teammate said he received a message from Iimori on Facebook six days before the attack.

In the message, Iimori asked the former teammate to send the full names of the members of the school baseball team and a photo of the coach.

The former teammate did not respond to the message, as he had not seen Iimori since they left junior high school.

Iimori was arrested early Monday after the police found him in a mountainous area in northern Osaka Prefecture not far from the crime scene. Police said he was in possession of the stolen pistol.

The gun contained five bullets when it was stolen, but only four were left when it was retrieved, the police said. There were signs the gun had been fired, and residents near the police box reported hearing an explosive sound about 20 minutes after the attack.

Iimori was wearing a light blue cap, a dark red jacket, navy pants and shoes at the time of his arrest. But security camera footage shows him walking around the police box just before the attack wearing a white cap.

The police suspect Iimori changed into different clothing as he fled and are now searching for the clothes and shoes he had on earlier.

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