Gun-wielding man arrested in Saitama hostage-taking incident

FUJIMINO, Saitama (Jiji Press) — Japanese police arrested a man who fired a gun and took a doctor hostage in a house in Fujimino, Saitama Prefecture, on suspicion of attempted murder Friday morning.

At around 8 a.m., about 11 hours after the incident began, officers of the Saitama prefectural police department burst into the house and arrested the suspect, Hiroshi Watanabe, 66, who is believed to be a resident of the house, police sources said. The gun he wielded is thought to be a hunting rifle.

The hostage, Junichi Suzuki, 44, was apparently shot and was confirmed dead after being taken to hospital.

At around 9:15 p.m. Thursday, the policed received an emergency call from a resident in the neighborhood of the house saying that gunshots were heard. A 41-year-old physical therapist was found lying near the entrance of the house. He was seriously injured, shot in the chest and stomach, but was conscious, according to fire authorities.

After that, another man, aged 32, rushed into a police station nearby, claiming that he had been hit by something like tear gas spray in the face. He was taken to hospital. This man, as well as Suzuki and the physical therapist, were making a condolence visit to the house together when they got involved in the incident.

While taking Suzuki hostage, the suspect spoke with a police officer over the phone but did not make any demand.

The house, which stands in a residential area, is located about 2 kilometers southwest of Fujimino Station of Tobu Railway Co.’s Tojo Line.