19 killed in knife attack
A KNIFE-WIELDING former employee killed 19 people and injured 25 at a care centre for the mentally disabled in Japan yesterday, in the country’s worst mass killing in decades.
The 26-year-old man, who reportedly threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people earlier this year, later turned himself in at a police station, saying to officers, “I did it.” He reportedly also said, “The disabled should all disappear.”
Authorities identified the attacker as Satoshi Uematsu and said he had worked at the facility in Sagamihara, a city of more than 700,000 people west of Tokyo, until February.
Broadcaster NTV said the man told police he had been fired and held a grudge against the care centre management.
The attack began in the early hours of the morning when Mr Uematsu allegedly broke a first-floor window to get into the building. Public broadcaster NHK reported that he tied up one caregiver before starting to stab the residents.
A doctor at one of the hospitals where victims were taken said some had “deep stab” wounds to the neck.
“The patients are very shocked mentally, and they cannot speak now,” the doctor told NHK.
A fleet of ambulances, police cars and fire trucks converged on the Tsukui Yamayuri-en centre, a low-rise complex nestled against forested hills, which was cordoned off and draped with yellow “Keep Out” tape.
The killing is believed to be the worst such incident in Japan since 1938, when a man went on a killing spree armed with an axe, sword and rifle, killing 30 people.
Fire department spokespeople said the dead included nine men and 10 women aged from 18 to 70, and that another 25 people were wounded, 20 of them seriously.
“Uematsu broke a glass window and intruded into the facility at 2:10am and stabbed those staying there,” Shinya Sakuma, an official from Kanagawa prefecture, told a press conference in the prefecture’s capital Yokohama.
“When Uematsu turned himself in,
he was found carrying kitchen knives and other types of knives stained with blood.”
Police said they received a call from the centre around 2:30am – about 20 minutes after the assault began – reporting that a man armed with knives had entered the facility. They said he turned himself in half an hour later.
Police officers guard the main gate to Tsukui Yamayuri En, a care centre at Sagamihara city, where a man claiming to be an ex-employee of the facility went on a rampage with a knife.