At least 19 people were killed and about 20 wounded in a knife attack on Tuesday at a facility for persons with disabilities in a city just outside Tokyo in the worst mass killing in generations in Japan.
Police said they responded to a call at about 2.30 a.m. from an employee saying something horrible was happening at the facility in the city of Sagamihara, 50 kilometres 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. The Sagamihara City fire department says that 19 people were confirmed dead in the attack. The fire department said doctors at the scene confirmed the deaths.
A woman who lives across from the facility told Japanese broadcaster 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.”
Local government officials have identified the suspect in the knife attack as Satoshi Uematsu.
A Kanagawa prefecture official told a news conference that Uematsu entered the building about 2.10 a.m. by breaking a glass window on the first floor. Shinya Sakuma, head of prefectural health and welfare division, said Uematsu had worked at the facility until February. Japanese media reports said he is 26 years old.
Television 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 passers-by.
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.