A knife-wielding former employee killed 19 people and injured 25 at a care centre for the mentally disabled in Japan today, in the country’s worst mass killing in decades.
A knife-wielding man apparently aggrieved at having been fired from the facility in Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, went on the rampage at 2:30 a.m. local time. He killed 19 people and injured 26 more, a dozen seriously. They have been transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. NHK, the public broadcaster, aired footage of ambulances lined up outside the facility.
The suspect, a 26-year-old whose name was given as Satoshi Uematsu, then drove himself to the police station to turn himself in. He was immediately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and unlawful entry to a building.
“I did it,” he told police, explaining that he was angry at losing his job at the facility, according to local TV reports. “It’s better that disabled people disappear,” the police quoted him as saying, according to local reports.
The stabbing took place in the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility in the Midori part of Sagamihara, about 35 miles west of Tokyo. The facility was built by the prefectural authorities and is run by a social welfare service organization called Kanagawa Kyodokai. The people who live there have a wide range of physical disabilities. Some can walk and do outside activities while others are bed-ridden.
Some 149 people aged between 18 to 75 live at the facility, NHK reported. All are intellectually disabled but some also have physical disabilities and mental disorders. Thirty-two of the residents have lived at the center for more than 30 years. Eight staff members are regularly on duty overnight.
Uematsu allegeldy used a hammer to break a window and get into the facility, Nippon TV reported. He started stabbing residents but was apprehended by a staff member, apparently tying up the person and snatching their keys before going on to stab more people, Nippon TV reported. NHK said a hammer was found and a window was broken at the facility and a knife in his car outside the police station.
Japan has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the developed world, and attacks involving weapons of any kind are unusual.
The killing is believed to be the worst such incident since 1938, when a man went on a killing spree armed with an axe, sword and rifle — killing 30 people.