National / Crime & Legal

Man stabs three nurses, policeman at hospital in Shikoku

Kyodo, Reuters, Staff Report

A Shikoku man stabbed three nurses and a policeman Friday at a hospital in Ehime Prefecture before being subdued, local police said, adding that the victims were being treated and remained conscious.

The nurses were stabbed in the chest and abdomen and the officer in the left arm, but their wounds were not life-threatening, the police said.

The stabbings took place at Matsukaze Hospital in Shikokuchuo, east of Imabari. The facility mainly offers psychiatric services.

The police described the suspect as a 45-year-old patient at the hospital. They said he allegedly stabbed one of the nurses and ran away, and that the other three were wounded as they tried to apprehend him.

The police said the suspect will be carefully examined to assess his mental condition to determine whether he can be charged.

The fracas began with an emergency call in the evening about a man armed with a knife who had entered the hospital, according to the police.

On Saturday, Hideo Morino, head of the hospital, said the suspect may have brought the knife when he was admitted to the hospital. He apologized for the hospital’s lax security checking system.

According to the hospital, when the man arrived with an acquaintance on Thursday, he refused to be admitted. But hospital officials, judging that the man might harm himself or others, with the consent of his next of kin admitted him against his will, which is allowed under the law.

The hospital checked his belongings when he was admitted Thursday. But the head nurse — who was also present at Saturday’s news conference — admitted officials did not carry out a detailed search out of concern the patient would not be cooperative and that he might refuse to be treated. The man has been admitted to the hospital several times in the past.

The suspect, who sustained an injury to his left arm, was hospitalized Saturday for treatment.

The incident follows a fatal stabbing spree in Kawasaki in May that saw a knife-wielding man slash a group of schoolgirls and parents at a bus stop, killing two and wounding over a dozen others.

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