The son of a Japanese lawmaker was arrested in central Japan Friday for allegedly killing four people during a bloody rampage, including two police officers responding to reports of a stabbing.
The shocking bloodbath marked the first time in 33 years multiple police officers have been killed in the line of duty, according to Kyodo News, violent crimes are rare in Japan, which has strict gun control laws and just a handful of gun-related crimes annually.
According to The Japan Times, the accused shooter, Masanori Aoki, 31, a farmer by trade, is the eldest son of Masamichi Aoki, the speaker of the Nakano Municipal Assembly in Nagano prefecture.
The newspaper Shinano Mainichi Shimbun reported the elder Aoki had resigned as an assembly member.
The violence unfolded in the city of Nakano around 4:25 p.m. Thursday, when neighbors reported seeing a woman running from Masanori Aoki along a street.
Aoki, dressed in camouflage clothing and brandishing a large knife with an 11-inch blade, allegedly caught up with the victim and stabbed her in the back, before retreating to his home just steps away.
When two police officers arrived to investigate the stabbing, Aoki reportedly emerged from the home carrying a hunting rifle and shot both cops, who were not wearing bulletproof vests.
Aoki then barricaded himself inside the family home, where his 57-year-old mother and 60-year-old aunt were also present.
Meanwhile, another injured woman was found near the home.
The suspect’s mother and aunt fled the house separately at 8 p.m. and midnight, respectively, as the standoff dragged on.
Police repeatedly communicated with Aoki over the phone, trying to get him to surrender.
He did not make any demands.
During the standoff, TV footage showed cops wearing bulletproof vests and carrying shields, with an ambulance nearby.
Police sealed off a 330-yard radius around the home, and city officials urged neighbors in the quiet farming neighborhood to remain indoors or take shelter at an evacuation center.
Around 4:30 a.m. Friday — 12 hours after the initial attack — Aoki emerged from the house, surrendering with his hands up.
Police said he was arrested under a court warrant on suspicion of murder and admitted his guilt during questioning.
The two police officers and stabbed woman were pronounced dead at the hospital.
The other woman found injured near Aoki’s home was pronounced dead after his surrender.
The four victims of the rampage were identified as Lt. Yoshiki Tamai, 46, and Sgt. Takuo Ikeuchi, 61.
The two women were named as Yukie Murakami, 66, and Yasuko Takeuchi, 70.
Nagano prefectural police chief Iwao Koyama offered condolences to the victims and said the loss of two police officials is “extremely regrettable.”
It was not immediately clear whether Aoki knew the female victims prior to the rampage; no motive has been revealed.
At a news conference, National Public Safety Commission Chairperson Koichi Tani said Aoki had licenses to own four hunting and air rifles authorized by the prefectural public safety commission, and his license renewals were properly made.
Tani said police are investigating his gun usage records, and that they plan to take safety measures based on investigation results.
Japanese media quoted neighbors as describing Aoki as a quiet person, and saying they were not aware of any family strife.
With Post wires