December 20 2021
OSAKA – Japanese police on Sunday identified a 61-year-old patient of a mental health clinic in the western Japan city of Osaka as the suspect of Friday’s arson attack at the clinic that killed 24 people.
Fourteen of the victims have been identified including the clinic’s director Kotaro Nishizawa, 49, the police said.
The suspect allegedly brought a paper bag containing liquid into the clinic and set it on fire. He used his bicycle to go to the clinic from his home in the city’s Nishiyodogawa Ward and carried with him two cans, which are believed to be tear gas sprayers, together with the paper bag, investigative sources said.
According to Kyodo, the suspect is a “skilled construction sheet metal worker, was employed at an Osaka factory until 2010. A daily work log he left behind in his last year on the job paints him as a hardworking individual.”
“If he couldn’t finish his work on time, he would come to the factory even on Sundays to work. That was how seriously he took it,” said the company’s president.
According to the president, the suspect entered his company in 2002 after working for his father who ran another sheet metal factory. He left suddenly in 2008 but asked to be employed again the following year.
Around a year later, he quit again for unknown reasons and the company lost contact with him.
In April 2011, the suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after stabbing his son in the head with a kitchen knife.
The president’s wife, who was shocked by the news that the suspect was the suspected arsonist, said, “While with us, he was hardworking and did not do any bad things.”
The Osaka prefectural police department said it released the name of the suspect even though it has yet to issue a warrant of arrest on murder and arson charges against the man because bereaved families wished to have the suspect identified.
“The crime was extremely heinous as it was directed at a large number of unspecified people,” an Osaka police official said.
The police continued to inspect the scene on the fourth floor of the building in Osaka’s Kita Ward on Sunday and are investigating whether there was any trouble between the suspect and the clinic.