December 30 2021
OSAKA – The suspect in a fatal fire at a mental health clinic in Osaka earlier this month died Thursday, police said.
The fire occurred at a clinic in a multi-tenant building in the city’s Kita Ward in the morning of Dec. 17. Security camera footage shows that the suspect set the fire soon after arriving at the clinic and blocked people there from evacuating.
Morio Tanimoto, 61, suspected of murder and arson, remained in critical condition due to carbon monoxide poisoning. He had acquired burns on his face, arms and legs in the fire and was taken to a hospital in state of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was resuscitated later but remained in a critical condition, leaving police unable to question him.
Tanimoto was a patient at the clinic. People who knew him have said he apparently lived a lonely life after going through a divorce and the deaths of family members and may have been suicidal.
All 25 victims have been identified, including the clinic’s director, Kotaro Nishizawa, 49, according to the police. A total of 27 people, including Tanimoto, were taken to hospitals after the fire.
According to investigative sources, it was discovered that Tanimoto purchased around 10 liters of gasoline in late November and may have intended to copy a deadly 2019 arson attack on an animation studio in Kyoto, which also involved the purchase of gasoline ahead of time.
Security camera footage from the clinic showed the suspect placing a paper bag in front of the reception area, the sources said. He then crouched by the bag and moved his hand, after which fire was seen quickly rising to the ceiling.
The police have so far confirmed no trouble between the clinic and the suspect, according to informed sources.