National / Crime & Legal

Police end probe of Kawasaki stabbing rampage with motive still a mystery

Kyodo

Police on Monday formally ended their investigation of a man who went on a fatal stabbing rampage in Kawasaki earlier this year targeting schoolchildren before killing himself.

Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, carried out the knife attack on the morning of May 28 at a spot where students of Caritas Elementary School were waiting for the school bus.

One of the pupils, 11-year-old Hanako Kuribayashi, was killed, while 17 other pupils aged 6 to 12 and a woman were injured. Foreign Ministry official Satoshi Oyama, 39, who was a parent of another student, was also killed in the attack.

The police mobilized some 2,100 investigators in the case and interviewed some 390 people, but were unable to discover Iwasaki’s motive. He died of a self-inflicted stab wound to the neck shortly after the rampage.

Police found no links between Iwasaki and Caritas Elementary School beyond the fact that one of his relatives was a graduate. The case was handed to prosecutors on Monday, but is unlikely to proceed as Iwasaki is dead.

He is suspected of having bought the two knives used in attack in February. Footage from security cameras showed a man resembling him checking out the site where the children waited for bus as well as the school in the days before the rampage.

He lived with his uncle and his aunt, both in their 80s, in the same city, and had led a reclusive life in the years before the attack, according to police.

All the injured pupils have physically recovered and left the hospital, and the school has continued to offer them individual counseling.

During summer break, the school offered phone counseling once a week for children and parents who felt anxious. The school has hired another full-time counselor, so two are available at the school starting this month.

“Some of the children are still recovering from trauma, so we have continued to work on offering individual care,” said Hiroaki Takamatsu, secretary general of Caritas Elementary School.

As the school resumed classes Monday following the break, police officers and local residents stood along school routes to keep a lookout for the students.

Police and local residents have also been on patrol for students belonging to other schools in the neighborhood, as city-run schools resumed classes earlier than Caritas.

“It is an incident we should never forget. We will continue to offer support to ensure safety in our local community,” said Yoichi Takahashi, an officer at Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department’s Tama Police Station.

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