Osaka – The man suspected of starting a fatal fire at a mental health clinic in the city of Osaka last week might have intended to copy a deadly 2019 arson attack at an animation studio in Kyoto, which also involved the purchase of gasoline before the incident, investigative sources said Tuesday.
Morio Tanimoto had left in his presumed living quarters in Osaka’s Nishiyodogawa Ward a newspaper page with reporting on the studio of Kyoto Animation fire, which claimed 36 lives, prompting police to believe he might have decided to use a similar method after reading the article, the sources said.
The newspaper was from July this year, which reported about the two-year anniversary of the Kyoto arson attack, prompting police to believe that the suspect may have planned the arson from around this time.
A handwritten memo was also found at his living quarters that read “arson murder,” the sources said.
The Osaka Prefectural Police also said Tuesday that a woman believed to be in her 20s who had been in critical condition has died, bringing the total death tally from the fire to 25.
Out of the 27 people taken to hospital after the fire, Tanimoto and a woman believed to be in her 30s remain in critical condition due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the sources, a small fire broke out in the man’s living space about 30 minutes before the Osaka clinic fire, with police suspecting he may have tried to ignite some gasoline ahead of the planned arson attack.
It was also discovered that the suspect, a 61-year-old patient at the clinic, purchased around 10 liters of gasoline in late November, leading police to believe he had a strong intent to kill people, the sources added.
Tanimoto is also believed to have attempted to seal the clinic’s emergency exit with adhesive tape from the outside a day before to prevent people from escaping, other investigative sources said.
Of the 25 victims who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, 21 have been identified, including the clinic’s director, Kotaro Nishizawa, 49, the police said.
Nishizawa told his wife he had discovered tape on the door leading to the fire escape on the day before Friday’s incident and removed it, according to the sources.
Security camera footage taken in the psychosomatic and psychiatric clinic showed the fire broke out around one to two minutes after Tanimoto’s arrival.
Police suspect he went to the clinic under the guise of receiving a medical examination.
The camera footage showed the suspect placing a paper bag in front of the clinic’s reception area. The suspect then crouched by the bag and moved his hand, and fire was seen quickly rising to the ceiling. A burned cigarette lighter was found where the fire apparently started.
As for the purchase of gasoline, Tanimoto apparently claimed he was going to use it for his motorcycle. He showed identification upon purchase because it is required to buy gasoline by the container.
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