At least 19 people killed, dozens injured in attack at facility for the disabled outside Tokyo
TOKYO — At least 19 people were killed and about 20 wounded in a knife attack early Tuesday at a facility for the handicapped in a city just outside Tokyo in a rare case of mass violence in Japan, according to Japanese media reports.
Police said they responded to a call about 2:30 a.m. from an employee saying something horrible was happening at the facility in the city of Sagamihara, west of Tokyo.
A man turned himself in at a police station about two hours later, police in Sagamihara said. He left the knife in his car when he entered the station. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and trespassing.
Police said there were several casualties, but did not provide any numbers. Japanese broadcaster NHK said 15 people were killed and 20 were wounded, while Kyodo News Service put the death toll at 19, including four who were critically injured and later declared dead.
A woman who lives across from the facility told NHK that she saw police cars enter the facility around 3:30 a.m.
“I was told by a policeman to stay inside my house, as it could be dangerous,” she said. “Then ambulances began arriving, and blood-covered people were taken away.”
NHK reported the suspect, 26, is a former employee at the facility, Tsukui Yamayuri-en. Another broadcaster, NTV, said he broke into the facility by smashing a window with a hammer, and that he was upset because he had been fired, but that could not be independently confirmed.
TV footage showed a number of ambulances parked outside the facility, with medical and other rescue workers running in and out.
Mass killings are relatively rare in Japan, which has extremely strict gun-control laws. In 2008, seven people were killed by a man who slammed a truck into a crowd of people in central Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district and then stabbed passersby.
Fourteen were injured in 2010 by an unemployed man who stabbed and beat up passengers on two public buses outside a Japanese train station in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 40 kilometres northeast of Tokyo.
Police officers stand by with ambulances and fire trucks on Tuesday on a street near a facility for the handicapped where a number of people were killed and dozens injured in a knife attack in Sagamihara, outside Tokyo.