TOKYO (AP) – Police said they arrested a man Friday who was hiding in his father’s home armed with a rifle and a knife after allegedly killing four people, including two police officers, in central Japan.
TV Asahi showed a man with his hands on his head coming out of the house and leading him towards a police vehicle.
Masanori Aoki, 31, a farmer, was arrested by police on a court warrant on suspicion of murder in Nakano, a city in Nagano Prefecture.
Nagano Prefectural Police Chief Iwao Koyama expressed his condolences to the victims and said the loss of the two police officers was “extremely regrettable”. He noted that the suspect allegedly shot the police officer in the left chest with a hunting rifle.
National Public Safety Commission Chairman Koichi Tani said at a regular press conference on Friday that the suspect had licenses for multiple hunting and air weapons approved by the prefectural public safety commission and that his license had been duly renewed.
Tani said police are investigating his gun record and plan to take necessary security measures based on the results of the investigation.
Police said the house is owned by his father, a local politician. Koyama said the two women who escaped while the suspect was being held were the suspect’s mother and aunt and were unharmed. NHK reported that the mother told the police that the attacker was her son and that his father was the president of the city assembly.
Japanese media quoted neighbors as describing the suspect as a quiet person and unaware of any family feud.
Police previously said the suspect shot two officers when they arrived at the scene after receiving a 911 call that a woman had been stabbed. The policemen were apparently without body armor.
On Friday, Nagano’s police chief said the suspect allegedly stabbed a 66-year-old woman with a survival knife.
A witness told NHK on Thursday that the woman fell while being chased by the suspect, who then stabbed her and shot at two police officers who arrived at the scene in a patrol car.
The woman and two police officers were pronounced dead at the hospital. An elderly woman, who was injured but could not be saved because she was near the suspect, was found dead early Friday morning, police said.
During the clashes, television footage showed police wearing bulletproof vests and shields, with an ambulance nearby. Police sealed off a 300-meter (330-foot) radius around the house, and city officials urged people in the quiet farming neighborhood to stay home or stay at an evacuation center, where about 80 people reportedly took shelter.
Violent crime is rare in Japan. It has strict gun control laws and only a few gun crimes per year. But in recent years, there have been some high-profile cases involving random subway knife attacks and arson attacks, and there is growing concern over homemade weapons and explosives.
This story has been corrected for correct attribution in paragraph 2 of TV Asahi.