May 28, 2019
A school bus, center, is parked at 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. (Kyodo News via AP)
By Kyodo News
KAWASAKI, Japan – The man who went on a fatal stabbing rampage on Tuesday morning in Kawasaki, near Tokyo shouted “I’m gonna kill you” as he held knives in each hand, eyewitnesses said.
Pools of blood were left at the scene where students of a nearby elementary school were attacked while waiting for a school bus.
Hospitals confirmed the deaths of two victims — an 11-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man, apparently the father of one of the students. The suspected attacker also stabbed himself in the neck and later died at a hospital.
“I heard the children’s screams at the back of the queue,” Satoru Shitori, vice principal of Caritas elementary school, told a press conference, describing the horror that occurred as he was helping children get onto a bus.
“I saw the criminal run toward the bus stop, waving what looked like long knives in both hands,” Shitori said. “I started to run after the criminal but then saw the driver get out of the bus to follow him.”
The vice principal then called the police on his cell phone as he checked the condition of the wounded students.
Toshichika Ishii, 57, who was at a park near the site, said, “I heard children scream ‘I’m scared’ and then turned to see a man with knives shouting, ‘I’m gonna kill you.'” He saw children falling to the ground.
Police quoted a bus driver who witnessed the assault as saying, “I tried to stop him, but he started stabbing children and others.”
“He then moved dozens of meters away and stabbed his own neck,” the driver said, according to the police.
Kazuhiro Yoshida, 60, another bus driver for the school, said he got off his bus when he arrived near the scene and found “pools of blood.”
“A man in dark clothing was lying on the ground and not moving,” Yoshida said.
Many of the victims sustained wounds to the neck, and they may also develop posttraumatic stress disorder, according to hospitals treating them.
A woman in her 40s who lives near the scene said she saw a rescue worker conducting a cardiac massage on a girl and “blood flowing from a man in a suit crouching on the ground and forming a pool.”
The scene and its vicinity were cordoned off as investigators collected evidence.
Parents arrived at the Catholic private school to pick their children up as the school and the local education board scrambled to gather information on the attack.
“I heard from school that my daughter was inside the bus (when the attack took place.) I heard she’s fine but I have not been able to meet her yet,” said the father of a first grader.
Schools in Japan have stepped up safety measures ever since a knife-wielding man, who sought to be sentenced to death, entered an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, and killed eight students and wounded 15 others in 2001.
Many schools lock their gates once classes start, and security cameras have been introduced. Volunteers and members of parent teacher associations also line the routes leading to schools. But such measures are limited.
“Even if we thoroughly implemented the plan (for preventing crimes), it is difficult to totally prevent them,” said a senior education ministry official.
In the wake of Tuesday’s attack, education minister Masahiko Shibayama called for the redoubling of efforts to secure safety at schools.
“The government as a whole must take measures including checking the safety of routes to schools and share information on suspicious individuals,” he said.