Japanese police have successfully detained a suspected gunman, reportedly in his 80s, who had taken hostages in a post office in Warabi, a town located just outside Tokyo. After a tense and lengthy standoff, authorities were able to resolve the situation late on Tuesday evening.
While the details surrounding the incident remain limited, a spokesman for Saitama Prefecture Police outside Tokyo confirmed the man’s detention, stating, “The man has been detained. Details will come later,” according to AFP.
The motive behind the hostage situation remains unclear, but police are exploring possible connections to an earlier incident at a nearby hospital where two individuals were injured. Additionally, reports suggest that a fire in an apartment block may also be linked to the unfolding events.
The standoff began when the suspect holed himself up in the post office around 2:15 pm (0515 GMT), allegedly in possession of what appeared to be a firearm, as reported by city authorities on their website.
During the negotiations, television footage captured a woman in her 20s, believed to have been one of the hostages, leaving the post office shortly before 7:30 pm.
The Asahi Shimbun daily reported that police decided to storm the building around 10:20 pm, taking the suspect into custody and confiscating his firearm.
Residents in the typically quiet neighborhood were left in disbelief. Tetsuo Sasaki, a 70-year-old resident, stated, “This is a quiet neighborhood. I can’t believe something like this is happening.” His wife, Reiko Sasaki, aged 64, added, “I used that post office just yesterday. I could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I could have been the target.”
In a related incident, two individuals, reportedly a doctor and a patient, sustained minor injuries after shots were seemingly fired into a nearby hospital in Toda. Authorities believe that the individual involved in the post office incident had some connection to the hospital, but details are still emerging.
An eyewitness inside the hospital shared their experience, “After 1:00 pm, I heard a woman shouting ‘Someone, please come,’ and a nurse told me, ‘Stay away from the windows and keep your head low.’ Around 2:00 pm, I looked inside the doctor’s office, and saw a pool of blood next to an examination table. I didn’t hear a gunshot. But a nurse said she heard two gunshots.”
Additionally, authorities are investigating a possible link between the suspect and a fire that occurred at an apartment building in Toda earlier in the day. Thankfully, no injuries were reported in the fire.
Violent crime remains rare in Japan due in part to strict regulations on gun ownership, but isolated cases do occur. Notably, in the past year, Japan has seen high-profile incidents, including the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and an explosive thrown toward current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who escaped unharmed. In a separate incident, a man barricaded himself in a building after allegedly killing four people, including two police officers and an elderly woman, in a gun and knife attack.
Sources By Agencies