Suspect in Abe killing made, test-fired guns

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A police officer carries a suspected homemade gun from Tetsuya Yamagami’s home in Nara City on Friday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The suspect in the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the handmade gun used in the attack “was designed to fire six pellets at once,” according to sources.

Several similar guns were found at the home of the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed former member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. The Nara prefectural police believe Yamagami made several prototypes and selected the most lethal one to commit the crime.

Yamagami was apprehended at around 11:30 a.m. on Friday and later arrested for the attempted murder of Abe, who was taking part in a campaign event for the House of Councillors election in front of Kintetsu Railway Co.’s Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara City.

According to sources close to the investigation, a handmade gun seized at the scene was approximately 40 centimeters long and 20 centimeters high. Yamagami has told authorities that two metal tubes were bound together and secured with wooden boards and tape. The tubes contained a capsule that could hold up to six pellets, which would be discharged out of each tube in a single shot.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Based on video footage taken at the scene, Yamagami fired from a position six to seven meters behind Abe.

When the prefectural police examined a campaign vehicle along a road about 20 meters away from Abe, they found multiple pellet holes in the signboard area. The prefectural police believe the holes were from stray pellets and, considering the distance, the pellets were emitted with great force.

The police searched Yamagami’s home in Nara City on Friday and found several handmade guns similar in construction to the one used in the attack. Each of the guns had several metal tubes bound together with tape, and one large gun had nine tubes bound together. They were also connected to an electrical cord that was believed to be used for ignition.

“I bought gunpowder on the internet, got empty shell casings and filled them myself,” Yamagami has stated. He also said that he “first tried to make a bomb, but it didn’t work out, so I decided to make guns.”

The police believe Yamagami was making guns at his home and are investigating how he obtained the parts.

Suspect ‘test-fired’ weapon

Nara prefectural police revealed on Sunday that Yamagami stated that he “test-fired [a homemade gun].”

Several wooden boards with multiple holes were found in Yamagami’s car, which was seized by the prefectural police, and he said that he used them for test-firing a gun. The location of the test-firing is unknown, and the prefectural police are investigating the details.

On Sunday morning, the prefectural police sent Yamagami to the public prosecutor’s office on a murder charge.