Four dead, suspect arrested in rare shooting in Japan

TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) – Japanese authorities said on Friday they 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 involving a 12 hour confrontation 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 Nagano prefectural police chief said in 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 Nakano City Council, state broadcaster NHK reported.

The two 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 in the inhabitants of the prefecture and in society in general,” he said.

Another elderly woman also died after an apparent knife attack, police said. She had been lying on the ground in front of the house since Thursday afternoon and police had been unable to reach her, media reported.

Police arrested the man around 4:30 a.m. (1930 GMT) on Friday, about 12 hours after the first call for help, media said. He was arrested for the alleged murder of one of the officers, Koyama said.

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Shootings are extremely rare in Japan, where gun ownership is strictly regulated and anyone seeking to own a gun must go through a rigorous vetting process. The suspect had a permit for a shotgun, the head of the National Public Security Commission said at 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 Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Michael Perry

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