SAITAMA — Japanese police have detained a suspected gunman reportedly in his 80s who holed up in a post office on Tuesday (Oct 31) with several hostages.
After an hours-long standoff in Warabi, outside Tokyo, police finally detained the man late Tuesday evening.
“The man has been detained. Details will come later,” a spokesman for Saitama Prefecture Police outside Tokyo told AFP
His motive was unclear but police believe he was also involved in an incident at the hospital that wounded two people and reports said that a fire in an apartment block may also be linked.
He had holed himself up in the post office at around 2.15pm (1.15pm, Singapore time) in possession of “what appears to be a gun,” the city authorities had said on their website.
Later, as police negotiated with the man, television footage showed a woman in her 20s, believed to have been a hostage, walking out of the post office shortly before 7.30pm.
The Asahi Shimbun daily reported that police stormed the building around 10.20pm, took the man into custody and confiscated his gun.
“This is a quiet neighbourhood. I can’t believe something like this is happening,” resident Tetsuo Sasaki, 70, told AFP.
“I used that post office just yesterday,” said his wife Reiko Sasaki, 64. “I could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I could have been the target.”
Two people were slightly wounded — reportedly a doctor and a patient — after shots were apparently fired from the street into the hospital in nearby Toda.
Police “believe the man was at the hospital and came to the post office”, a city official told AFP.
“After 1pm, I heard a woman shouting ‘Someone, please come,’ and a nurse told me, ‘Stay away from the windows and keep your head low,'” a man in his 60s who was inside the hospital told broadcaster NHK.
“Around 2pm, I looked inside the doctor’s office, and saw a pool of blood next to an examination table. I didn’t hear a gunshot. But a nurse said she heard two gunshots,” the man said.
Fuji TV said police were also investigating a possible link between the man and a fire at an apartment building in Toda earlier in the day. No one was injured in the fire, it said.
Violent crime is rare in Japan, in part because of strict regulations on gun ownership, but cases still occur.
Last year, former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead and this April a man hurled an explosive towards current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Mr Kishida was unharmed.
The following month, a man holed up in a building after allegedly killing four people, including two police officers and an elderly woman, in a gun and knife attack. AFP