Ex-military attacker ‘stabs Japanese police officer to death, takes gun and shoots security guard in rare violent rampage near primary school’
Police believe Keita Shimazu, a former member of the Self-Defence Forces, stabbed the police officer before taking his gun and using it to kill a security guard
Two people including a policeman were killed in Japan on Tuesday, officials said, when a man armed with a knife walked through a primary school in central Toyama prefecture before stabbing the officer, seizing his gun and shooting a security guard dead in a rare violent crime in the country.
Keita Shimazu, 21, a former member of the Self-Defence Forces, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of killing officer Kenichi Inaizumi, 46, and construction site guard Shinichi Nakamura, 68, near the front gate of Okuda Elementary School, where teachers and students were on alert.
Inaizumi and Nakamura were both confirmed dead at a hospital, the police spokesman added. More than 400 pupils were forced to take shelter in the school’s gymnasium, local media said.
The police officer had sustained dozens of stab wounds to his stomach and other parts of the body, the police said, while Nakamura, who was found lying on the ground near the school gate, had gunshot wounds to his head and left shoulder.
Shimazu, a resident of the town of Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, entered the school in the early afternoon and roamed the building with with a knife, authorities said.
Pupils were warned not to leave their classrooms until they could be escorted to the gymnasium, where they stayed until the crisis was over. The teachers were guarding the entrances to the gym with brooms and sticks in their hands, according to the school.
“We were sitting and waiting. I was so scared and not able to talk to my friends,” an eight-year-old boy in the second grade said.
Shimazu was armed with an axe and two knives, with one discovered around the police box and the other two confiscated when he was detained, police said, adding that he showed his weapons to two police officers who arrived at the scene and confronted them before he was shot.
Police said “no other people were injured” in the attack, a relatively rare incident in Japan, which prides itself on a low crime rate.
Tomohiro Yamada, chief of the Toyama prefectural police, said at a press conference that the stolen pistol was retrieved, expressing regret that a police officer was robbed of his firearm.
Shimazu joined the military in 2015 and was stationed at Camp Kanazawa, west of Toyama, public broadcaster NHK said. He conducted rifle exercises before quitting in March last year, NHK added.
Gun crime is especially low in Japan, where weapons are strictly regulated. According to the latest figures from the national police agency, there were only 22 incidents of a gun being fired in 2017, resulting in three deaths and five injuries.
In January 2016, a man took a gun from a police officer and fired four shots at him in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, seriously injuring the officer.
In April this year, a 19-year-old police officer shot another officer dead at a police box in Shiga Prefecture, western Japan. He said his slain colleague had been bullying him.
In response to incidents in which officers were robbed of their guns, police have been engaging in activities nationwide to raise awareness among officers of the need to carefully maintain control of their weapons at all times.