Japan stabbing suspect cries during interrogation
By ERIC TALMADGE 06.10.08, 11:16 AM ET
The suspect in a knifing rampage that left seven dead in Tokyo was handed over to prosecutors Tuesday, as Internet postings he is accused of writing painted a picture of an angry, lonely young man and a meticulously planned attack.
Tomohiro Kato, a 25-year-old factory worker, was transferred from police custody to a holding cell at the Tokyo prosecutors office, where he was expected to undergo further questioning about Sunday's attack. Police say he slammed a rented truck into a crowd of pedestrians before jumping out and stabbing several people with a five-inch knife.
A police spokesman said Kato has generally been cooperative, though unapologetic, during questioning and has at times broken down in tears. The spokesman requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and refused to give further details.
Outside Tokyo, police conducted a search of Kato's apartment Tuesday and confiscated empty packages that had contained knives and a club. They also found receipts for the weapons and catalogues, a spokesman said.
Three people were killed by the impact of the truck and four others died of stab wounds, police said. Another 10 were injured. Kato, his face and clothes spattered with blood, was arrested on the spot. It was the worst killing spree in Tokyo in recent memory.
The Asahi and the Yomiuri, two of Japan's biggest newspapers, reported that Kato told police he went to Akihabara the day before the rampage to plan his assault. National broadcaster NHK reported Kato also told police he visited the popular shopping district to sell his home computer to raise money to rent the truck. Akihabara is a hangout for young people and the center of Japan's comic book and computer game culture.
Police refused to confirm those reports.
More details emerged in the media Tuesday about Kato's background and his metamorphosis from an award-winning tennis player in high school to a secluded and virtually friendless temporary worker in a factory outside Tokyo.
Three days before the attack, Kato lost his temper at the auto parts factory where he worked in Shizuoka, about 100 miles southwest of Tokyo, company executive Osamu Namai said.
"He was screaming that his uniform was missing. When his colleague got a new uniform for him, he had already left and never returned," Namai told reporters. Namai also said, however, that Kato was a "very serious" worker and not known as a troublemaker.
After quitting his job, Kato sent a slew of postings from his mobile phone to an Internet bulletin board called the "Extreme Exchange," one of what experts see as a growing number of dubious websites that can be used by people looking for accomplices in criminal activities, searching for people willing to join in group suicides or sellers and buyers of illegal drugs.
Access to the site has been halted and the provider is working with the police, said Hiroyuki Kuwako of the Telecom Services Association.
NHK reported that Kato bought a knife at a camping and outdoor supply shop two days before the rampage. Surveillance video showed him laughing with the shopkeeper and making stabbing motions with his hands.
In the days leading up to the attack, Kato also sent a slew of postings from his cell phone to an Internet bulletin board, police said.
Though officials refused to comment further, Japanese media said the postings depicted a disturbed man raging against society and vowing to get revenge by unleashing his fury on the streets of Akihabara. The main street in Akihabara is closed to traffic on Sundays, allowing large crowds of pedestrians to flow into the area.
A chronicle of the messages, carried by The Asahi, portrayed a man at his breaking point:
"Oh, I am hopeless," the paper said he wrote two days before the attack. "What I want to do: commit murder. My dream: to monopolize the tabloid TV shows. ... I saw a loving couple at a river bank. I wish they were killed by (being) swept away by the river."
"Since I was young, I was forced to play a 'good boy,'" he reportedly wrote the next day. "I'm used to deceiving people."
Just 20 minutes before the attack, he reportedly posted his last message: "It's time."
No charges have been filed against Kato. Under Japanese law, a suspect can be held by police for two days and then must be transferred to the custody of prosecutors, who have 20 days to either file charges or release the suspect.
Associated Press writer Shino Yuasa contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
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