City legislator’s son arrested after 4 killed, including 2 police officers, in Nagano Prefecture

by May 26, 2023Featured Article, News

The son of a city assembly chief in central Japan was arrested Friday on suspicion of killing two policemen in a stabbing and shooting attack that left a total of four people dead, according to local police.

The police identified the suspect as Masanori Aoki, 31, the eldest son of Masamichi Aoki, speaker of the city assembly in Nakano, Nagano Prefecture.

He was arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting the police officers on Thursday before barricading himself in his city official father’s house. He was taken into custody at around 4:37 a.m. on Friday.

The motive for the rampage and other details remain unknown.

Police initially received an emergency call at around 4:25 p.m. Thursday about a man who had stabbed a woman in the city, which lies to the northeast of the prefectural capital of Nagano.

An eyewitness working in a field at about 4 p.m. said he first spotted the attacker chasing a woman who was shouting for help.

The suspect, wearing camouflage clothing, a hat, sunglasses and a mask, grabbed the woman by the arm before stabbing her in the back with a blade that appeared to be around 30 centimeters long. He stabbed her again in the chest while she lay facing upward, according to the eyewitness.

“I killed her because I wanted to,” the suspect was quoted as saying when the eyewitness asked why he had done such a thing.

As the man left on foot, the 72-year-old local rushed to his home about 150 meters away, called the police and took the officers to a parking area where the stabbing took place.

The attacker reemerged as the police car was parking and immediately fired into the driver’s side. The witness ran away. He said he heard more gunshots but was too afraid to look back.

The suspect then entered the house of the assembly speaker, the police said.

The woman who was stabbed and later pronounced dead was identified as Yukie Murakami, 66, while another woman who had been found injured nearby and later confirmed dead was named as Yasuko Takeuchi, 70.

The two officers were identified as Yoshiki Tamai, 46, and Takuo Ikeuchi, 61. Another woman was also found injured and confirmed dead later.

Through the early hours of the morning, two other women, including the suspect’s mother, escaped the house and the 57-year-old assembly chief was confirmed safe.

Residents within a 300-meter radius of the crime scene evacuated to a local junior high school, and all returned to their homes by Friday morning.

The scene of the incident is about 2 kilometers west of Shinshunakano Station on the Nagano Electric Railway.

The last time multiple police officers were killed in an incident in Japan dates back to 1990 in Okinawa Prefecture when two officers patrolling amid a gang war were targeted after being mistaken for gangsters, according to police sources.

Gun ownership is strictly controlled in Japan. Local police on Friday said the suspect had a license for four firearms, including rifles and air guns.

Neighbors described the suspect as “quiet,” and said he did not leave the house often. He is believed to have been involved in operating a farm that supplied fruit to a gelato store his father had opened.