Four dead, suspect arrested in rare shooting in Japan

TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) – Japanese authorities said on Friday they had arrested a 31-year-old man in a rural area on suspicion of murder after four people were killed in a rare shooting and stabbing incident that saw a 12-hour standoff with police .

The suspect had holed up in his home after shooting two police officers who arrived on the scene in response to a report that a woman had been stabbed, the chief of Nagano Prefectural Police told a televised press conference. He used what appeared to be a shotgun in the shooting, he said.

The suspect is the son of the head of the Nakano city council, NHK public broadcaster reports.

The two police officers and the woman were taken to hospital and pronounced dead within hours, police chief Iwao Koyama said.

“This is a heinous crime that has caused great fear among the inhabitants of the prefecture and society as a whole,” he said.

Another elderly woman also died after an apparent knife attack, police said. She had been lying on the floor outside the house since Thursday afternoon and the police had not been able to reach her, media reported.

Police arrested the man at around 4:30 am (1930 GMT) on Friday, about 12 hours after the first call to emergency services, the media said. He was arrested for the suspected murder of one of the police officers, Koyama said.

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Shootings are extremely rare in Japan, where gun ownership is highly regulated and anyone wishing to own a gun must go through a strict vetting process. The suspect had a shotgun license, the head of the National Public Safety Commission said in a separate briefing.

The suspect’s mother and aunt who were in the house with him escaped on their own, Koyama said.

Few other details were known, including the suspect’s motive.

Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama Edited by Chang-Ran Kim and Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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