Train attacker wanted to kill people on Halloween

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Passengers are seen escaping through train windows at Kokuryo Station in Chofu, Tokyo, on Sunday night in a still image from footage recorded by a witness.

The suspect arrested for a knife attack on a Tokyo train on Sunday told police he decided to commit the crime on Halloween as he knew it would be crowded, according to sources.

Kyota Hattori, 24, of no fixed address, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department on suspicion of attempted murder and arson for stabbing a passenger and starting a fire on a Keio Line train in Chofu, Tokyo.

Hattori told police that he “decided to carry out the attack on a train rather than in a crowded outdoor area because I thought I would definitely kill people that way.”

According to a police statement, the attack unfolded at about 8 p.m. on a 10-car express train that was traveling near Fuda Station in Chofu on Sunday.

Hattori sprayed pesticide on the face of a 72-year-old man from Tokyo, before stabbing him in the chest with an about 30-centimeter knife, leaving the victim unconscious and in a critical condition.

According to investigative sources, Hattori moved away from his hometown in Fukuoka Prefecture in July and had stayed in Kobe and Nagoya, before moving in late September into a hotel in Hachioji, Tokyo.

Hattori told the police that he moved to Tokyo so he would be in the capital for Halloween.

When Hattori boarded a train at Keio Hachioji Station at around 5 p.m. on Sunday, he was wearing a purple suit as worn by the comic character Joker, a villain from the Batman superhero series who the suspect said he “adores.”

According to the police, Hattori said: “I bought the costume for the occasion.”

After arriving at Shibuya Station, he walked around the streets, watching the crowds of people in the area for about 30 minutes. He then took a train from Shibuya on the Keio Line, went westbound to Chofu Station, then got off there to take an eastbound express train that departed at 7:54 p.m. Shortly after the train departed, he stabbed the man and moved to another car where he spread lighter fluid in a 2-liter plastic bottle and started a fire.

Sixteen passengers aged 10-69 were treated for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.

According to people who knew the suspect, Hattori worked as a care worker after graduating from a vocational school in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Doors remained closed

When the train made an emergency stop at Kokuryo Station in Chofu the doors remained closed, forcing passengers to flee through the windows of the train.

With the knife-wielding attacker remaining on the train and a fire burning in one of the cars, the injury toll could have been much worse if the passengers had not been able to escape.

According to train operator Keio Corp., when an emergency stop was made at Kokuryo Station, the doors of the train were not aligned correctly with the platform doors. The conductor, who could not find out about the stabbing or arson at the time as there were no onboard security cameras, decided not to open the train doors to prevent the risk of passengers falling onto the tracks.