National / Crime & Legal

Police search home of Kyoto Animation arson suspect for clues to motive and timeline

Kyodo

Police on Friday searched the home of the 41-year-old man suspected of being behind the arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio that left 34 people dead.

Around 10 investigators entered Shinji Aoba’s apartment in the city of Saitama at 9 a.m. seeking evidence that could help them piece together a motive and the sequence of events leading up to the crime.

They left with two cardboard boxes and speakers. Aoba was known to play loud music in his apartment, frequently creating problems with his neighbors. On one occasion, the police became involved.

Aoba is currently hospitalized with severe burns. The police obtained a fresh warrant Thursday as they wait for him to recover before formally arresting him on suspicion of arson and the murder of 33 people. The cause of death for the remaining victim is still unknown.

The police obtained an arrest warrant shortly after the arson attack but the charge was only tied to the murder of five people. They asked a court to issue a second warrant, without serving the first one, after confirming the cause of death for the 33 people.

Aoba is suspected of entering Kyoto Animation’s three-story building on July 18 screaming “Die!” and igniting about 10 liters of gasoline.

He allegedly pushed a cart to the studio loaded with 40 liters of gasoline in two cans, along with two buckets into which he transferred a portion of the fuel before he entered the studio.

Police say that he made multiple trips to the same hardware store to purchase the containers and the cart the day before the crime.

Aoba bought the fuel at a gas station on the morning of the fire, which lasted almost 20 hours and is one of the country’s deadliest arson attacks in recent history.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency on Thursday asked all businesses selling gasoline to voluntarily conduct identification checks and ask customers who bring their own containers the reason for their purchase.

Sellers who are suspicious of a customer’s intentions may contact the local authorities.

The agency believes that having a record of such details, including the time and amount of fuel sold, may help police prevent or quickly investigate instances of arson.

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