This aerial photo shows the scene of an attack in Kawasaki, near Tokyo Tuesday, May 28, 2019. A man wielding a knife attacked commuters waiting at a bus stop just outside Tokyo during Tuesday morning’s rush hour, Japanese authorities and media said. (Jun Hirata/Kyodo News via AP)

Knife-wielding man attacks schoolgirls in Japan, killing 2

Police identified the attacker as Ryuichi Iwasaki, a 51-year-old resident of Kawasaki

A man carrying a knife in each hand and screaming “I will kill you!” attacked a group of schoolgirls near a school bus parked at a bus stop just outside Tokyo on Tuesday, killing two people and injuring at least 17 before killing himself, officials said.

Most of the victims were students at a Catholic elementary school who were lined up at the bus stop near Noborito Park in the city of Kawasaki when the man began slashing them with knives. Officials said police captured the attacker but he died at a hospital from a self-inflicted cut in his neck.

Witnesses described a hellish scene: children and adults falling to the ground, some with their shirts soaked with blood, dozens of children running and screaming for help, and school bags and books scattered on the ground.

“I heard a scream so I stopped and turned around to see what happened. It was not a normal tone of voice,” said Yasuko Atsukata. She said she saw one person collapse, and then another. “The colour of their white shirts turned red after they collapsed, then I understood they got stabbed.”

In a nearby parking lot, a frightened-looking boy was in shock with scratches on his face, hands and legs, apparently from falling to the ground as he ran for his life.

Police identified the attacker as Ryuichi Iwasaki, a 51-year-old resident of Kawasaki, and said they were still checking his occupation. The attacker’s motive wasn’t immediately known.

Police found two more knives in the man’s knapsack in addition to the two he was holding, according to media reports.

Iwasaki reportedly lived with his elderly uncle and aunt and was known as a troublemaker. A neighbour said Iwasaki repeatedly rang her doorbell early one the morning about a year ago and yelled at her husband that he had been hit by a tree branch sticking out from their yard, the Sankei newspaper reported.

Kawasaki city official Masami Arai said most of the injured were students at Caritas Gakuen, a Catholic school founded by Soeurs de la Charite de Quebec, an organization of Catholic nuns in Quebec City in Canada. Arai said three of the injuries were serious.

Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed 17 people were injured and three others had died, including the attacker. Police identified the two other fatalities as 11-year-old Hanako Kuribayashi and Satoshi Oyama, a 39-year-old government employee who was taking his child to the bus stop.

Hospital officials said both had been slashed in the neck and the head.

Caritas Chairman Tetsuro Saito said at a news conference that he was “struggling to fight back my anger.”

“My heart is broken with pain when I think of the innocent children and their parents who send their children to our school with love who were victimized by this savage act,” he said.

School officials said they will step up security measures at the school, including adding more security guards. But the incident raises questions about how schools can ensure the safety of children while commuting. Japanese children often walk to schools in groups.

Witnesses said that as the attack unfolded, the bus driver shouted at the attacker, and as he was running away he cut his own neck, collapsing in a pool of blood as police seized him.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was outraged by the attack.

“Many small children were victimized, and I feel strong resentment,” Abe said as he was hosting President Donald Trump on a four-day state visit, which ended Tuesday. “I will take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.”

Although Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has had a series of high-profile killings, including in 2016 when a former employee at a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others.

Also in 2016, a man stabbed four people at a library in northeastern Japan, allegedly for mishandling his questions. No one was killed. 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.

ALSO READ: B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

ALSO READ: Saanich police continue to search for attacker in Gordon Head sexual assault

___

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

___

Associated Press journalist Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.

Mari Yamaguchi And Jae Hong, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Pedestrian struck by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Surrey man facing charges related to child pornography

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Most Read