A man dressed in Batman’s Joker costume was arrested for attempted murder after a knife and fire attack on a Keio Line train in Tokyo on Sunday night left 17 people injured, one seriously, authorities said, as revelers were heading to the city center for Halloween.
Police arrested the 24-year-old man, who identified himself as Kyota Hattori, at the scene. A male passenger in his 70s was in critical condition after being stabbed in the chest as the train was moving around 8 p.m.
Hattori was quoted by investigators as saying he “wanted to kill people and be given the death penalty,” and hoped to do so if he killed two or more people. He also told them he had scattered lighter fluid.
According to the police, Hattori referenced an incident in August on an Odakyu Electric Railway commuter train in Tokyo in which a man stabbed and slashed 10 passengers amid heightened security for the Tokyo Olympics.
The other victims in Sunday’s incident ranged in age from their teens to their 60s. In addition to the seriously injured man, 16 people sustained minor injuries including smoke inhalation.
The incident, which caused panic among passengers who scrambled to escape through train windows, took place on a 10-car train bound for Shinjuku, a busy station in central Tokyo, from Hachioji in the west of the capital.
Investigative sources and eyewitnesses said the suspect was brandishing what looked like a kitchen knife and holding a plastic bottle in his other hand as he walked through the train.
After riding the train in the eighth car from the front and stabbing the man in his 70s, Hattori moved to the sixth car where he scattered the fluid and burnt a seat. The train then filled with smoke.
A male passenger, who was about a meter away from Hattori, said the knife looked like it was stained with fake blood. “I thought it was a Halloween prank,” he said.
The limited express train made an emergency stop at Kokuryo Station in Chofu, western Tokyo, and the fire was put out about 30 minutes later after more than 40 firefighting vehicles were mobilized.
“I heard a loud bang and saw flames and smoke in the back. Everyone was panicking,” a male passenger said.
Photos and videos of the incident, which took place on the day of Japan’s general election, were posted on social media by eyewitnesses. People were seen climbing out of train windows onto the platform after the doors failed to immediately open when the train stopped. Screaming could be heard and someone saying, “Run away.”
In a video posted to social media, the assailant was seen dressed in clothes that resemble those of the Joker, the villain from the Batman franchise. After the train had stopped, he was seen sitting alone on a train seat, calmly smoking a cigarette. Another video showed the same man surrounded by police.
The man reportedly did not resist being taken into custody.
One of the passengers, who said, “I saw a woman crying and shivering. I thought I was going to die,” was reminded of the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1995 that killed 14 people and injured over 6,000.
A number of attacks on trains and station premises in the Tokyo area have occurred recently.
On Oct. 15, two men were stabbed by a man at JR Ueno Station, and two people were injured in a Tokyo subway station in late August after a man sprayed sulfuric acid in the face of another man.
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