Osaka arson suspect bought gasoline late last month

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People on Monday mourn victims of the arson attack in Osaka in front of the building where the incident happened.

OSAKA — The suspect in the deadly arson attack on a clinic in central Osaka bought gasoline in late November at a gas station in the city’s Nishi-yodogawa Ward, according to investigative sources.

Police believe Morio Tanimoto, 61, obtained the gasoline in preparation for the attack. Tani-moto was a patient of the Nishi-Umeda Kokoro to Karada no Clinic, which was involved in psychosomatic medicine.

The fire broke out around 10:20 a.m. on Friday at the clinic, on the fourth floor of an eight-story multitenant building.

Among the 27 people who were taken to the hospital in a state of cardiac arrest, 24 have been confirmed dead, including Kotaro Nishizawa, the 49-year-old head of the clinic, and patients. Tanimoto was resuscitated but as of Monday was in critical condition.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Morio Tanimoto

Two other people, both women, are also in critical condition.

The police have learned that Tanimoto presented personal ID and bought gaso-line at the gas station in the ward, where he was living. The station had a record of his purchase.

According to sources, an oily substance was detected near the clinic’s reception desk, and lab tests have shown it to be gasoline.

The Osaka Prefectural Police checked security camera footage that showed a man believed to be Tanimoto entering the clinic. The man stopped near the reception desk and then placed two paper bags he was holding in each hand on the floor and kicked them, causing liquid to leak out.

The man was seen squatting on the spot and then fire broke out. The man plunged into the flames, which had risen near the ceiling. A lighter was found at the site.

Police believe Tanimoto set the fire knowing that there were many patients in the clinic and that there was no exit at the other side of the facility.

Autopsies have shown carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death for all 24 victims. The Osaka Prefectural Police believe Tanimoto ignited gasoline near the clinic’s reception desk.