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Kato 'waited for crowds to form' / Akihabara knifing spree suspect said to have known busiest time in area

Chiyoda Ward officials on Wednesday pick up flowers left in memory of the victims of Sunday's indiscriminate rampage in Akihabara, Tokyo, to move them to a storage site after the memorial area created at the scene of the attacks became full.

Tomohiro Kato, who allegedly killed seven people in an indiscriminate rampage in Akihabara, Tokyo, on Sunday, has told police that he drove the truck into the street crowded with people after waiting until noon, when the street was closed to traffic, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Wednesday.

"Of all the places I knew, the busiest place I could think of was the Akihabara street during the times when it is closed to traffic," Kato, 25, reportedly told the Metropolitan Police Department, adding that he set out to kill a large number of people.

The police found Kato also had a throwing knife concealed in his sock in addition to the two other knives already reported--a dagger and a butterfly knife.

Armed with the three knives, the man drove the truck he had rented into the crowd of people at the intersection with murderous intent and without hesitation, the MPD believes.

He arrived at the scene 45 minutes before he began his 12:30 a.m. rampage, and loitered in a nearby area, according to sources.

The MPD believes the man had concocted a detailed plan to target the crowd of pedestrians on the street in Akihabara--an area he knew well through frequent visits over the past five years.

According to the messages he allegedly posted on a bulletin board on a cell phone Web site, the suspect left his house in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, at about 7 a.m. Sunday, and then rented the truck at a rental service near JR Numazu Station in the prefecture.

Kato arrived in Akihabara at 11:45 a.m., shortly before the "pedestrian paradise" hours began at noon.

According to former school classmates, Kato had frequently visited Akihabara since the summer of 2003 to buy video games and other items.

The suspect told the police he had known the vehicle-free hours usually started at noon.

He is also quoted by police as saying, "As I arrived there early, I parked [the truck] on a street and went to a discount store [100 meters from the crime scene] to kill time."

One of the messages on the online bulletin board reads "It's time," and was posted at around 12:10 p.m.--20 minutes before the truck was driven into the intersection.

The suspect thinks that the traffic signal was red at the time, according to sources.

Through an inspection of the scene, the police have established that there is no evidence the truck braked at or near the intersection.

They also have established that three of those who died in the incident were killed due to the impact of the truck.

According to an MPD official, Kato stabbed the pedestrians with the dagger--double-edged, with a 13-centimeter blade--held in his right hand.

He kept the butterfly knife, which had a nine-centimeter blade, in an inner pocket of his jacket and the sheathed throwing knife with an 11-centimeter blade in his sock.

A throwing knife believed to be the suspect's was found at the intersection after Sunday's incident. The police believe Kato dropped it during his rampage.

A doctor who provided emergency care to stab victims at the scene told The Yomiuri Shimbun, "Their wounds were so deep that I could tell the suspect stabbed them without hesitation."

(Jun. 12, 2008)
AP News
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