Man attacks people, kills 7 in Akihabara, Tokyo

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

The scene about two hours after the incident.
Image: Carpkazu.

A lively shopping district was suddenly struck by an indiscriminate murder spree on a Sunday afternoon. A young man attacked a crowd with a rented truck, and then stabbed people with a dagger, around 12:35 JST (3:35 UTC) on Sunday in the Akihabara district of Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. The suspect, identified as Tomohiro Katō, aged 25, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Seven people were killed, and ten injured.

The injured people include pedestrians, a 53-year-old policeman, and a taxi driver, 54, who is believed to have left his taxi in order to help a pedestrian hit by the truck. About 17 ambulances came to the scene. NHK reports that medical teams trained for disasters joined the rescue.

The dead are six men aged between 19 and 74 and a 21-year-old woman; each was identified by police.

The truck, traveling on Kanda Myōjin-dōri (Kanda Myōjin Avenue), ran into the crowd at a crossing on Chūō-dōri (Chūō Avenue), which is a vehicle-free road every Sunday. After entering the crowd, the truck continued moving for about 30 meters. The suspect then exited the truck and began stabbing people. According to a witness, the suspect, upon being pursued by police, ran south on Chūō-dōri and was cornered in a narrow alley. The suspect dropped his knife after the police officer drew his gun, and was overpowered by the officer and several bystanders.

Crowds watched as emergency workers attended to the victims.
Image: Carpkazu.

The suspect has been quoted as confessing to police, "I came to Akihabara to kill people. I'm tired of the world. Anyone was OK. Today I came alone." The suspect, a native of Aomori City, lived and worked as a dispatched temporary employee in Shizuoka Prefecture. After being held at the Manseibashi Police Station, he was sent on Tuesday to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.

At the scene, a table covered with a white cloth was set for memorial flowers and other offerings on the morning of Monday, June 9. As acquaintances of the dead and passersby visited, the table soon filled—almost flooded—with flowers, drink bottles, pictures, and folded paper cranes.

The incident occurred on the same date with the 2001 Osaka school massacre, in which eight elementary school students were killed.

NHK reported the incident as confirmed within 45 minutes, interrupting a news channel program for one minute. Some newspapers created special issues to report the incident as June 8 was a Sunday and also a press holiday, many newspapers in Japan were not scheduled for delivery on that evening or the following morning.

The Akihabara district is famous for its Electric Town with wholesalers and retailers of video games or electric gadgets such as PC parts, televisions and kitchen appliances. It has also become famous for distinctive trends in cultures created or supported by the youth.

Local residents, business owners, and government officials from Chiyoda Ward assembled for an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss whether the practice of maintaining the vehicle-free area on Sundays ought to be continued. The Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission is also expected to discuss the issue.

Sources

As to the suspect's confession:

As to the suspect's profile:

As to the emergency meeting:

As to the memorial table:

As to the taxi driver:

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