• Crime & Courts

Japan Shooting Suspect Ends Standoff, Arrested by Police for Murder

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police officers are seen near the crime scene after murder suspect Masanori Aoki was taken into custody in Nakano, Nagano Prefecture, early Friday morning.

NAKANO, Nagano — A deadly, 12-hour standoff with police ended early Friday when a 31-year-old man holed up in his home gave himself up to the authorities.

Masanori Aoki, who does agricultural work, was arrested on suspicion of murdering a police officer. The fatal shootings and stabbings left another police officer and two women dead.

The suspect’s father is the 57-year-old speaker of the Nakano municipal assembly who owns the home. Nakano is about 25 kilometers northwest of the prefectural capital Nagano.

According to Nagano prefectural police, Aoki is suspected of murdering police Sgt. Takuo Ikeuchi, 61, of the Nakano Police Station’s regional division. Aoki allegedly fired a hunting rifle at Ikeuchi when the officer arrived in a police car at about 4:35 p.m. Thursday in response to an emergency call. The police say Aoki has admitted to this allegation.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Murder suspect Masanori Aoki is seen in a police vehicle as it arrives at Nakano Police Station in Nagano Prefecture on Friday morning.

The emergency call at 4:26 p.m. came from a witness saying a man had stabbed a woman. The woman is apparently Yukie Murakami, 66, of Nakano, whose wounds appear to have been made by a survival knife.

Aoki is also believed to have shot and killed Yoshiki Tamai, a 46-year-old police lieutenant who arrived at the scene with Ikeuchi.

After the encounter with police, Aoki barricaded himself in the house.

A woman identified as Yasuko Takeuchi, 70, was later found lying near the house and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police set up an investigation squad to look into the deaths of Murakami, Tamai and Takeuchi with a view toward charging Aoki with additional counts of murder.

During the standoff, Aoki’s mother and aunt were in the house, but his mother escaped at about 8:30 p.m. and his aunt did so around 12:10 a.m. Friday. His father has been confirmed to be safe.

The prefectural police had requested the Metropolitan Police Department to dispatch the Special Investigation Team while asking the Kanagawa prefectural police to send its Special Assault Team trained to deal with such standoffs.

The local police also designated a 300-meter radius around the crime scene as an evacuation zone. A nearby prefectural road was also closed to traffic as a precaution.

At 4:37 a.m. Friday, Aoki came out of the house and was taken into custody. He was booked at 8:21 a.m.

According to Aoki’s acquaintances and other sources, he graduated from a local prefectural high school and attended a university in the Tokyo metropolitan area. He dropped out, though. After that, he was helping out with the family’s agricultural business.

Aoki seemed kind and attentive when he was in high school, the sources said, but since returning to his parents’ home, he rarely spoke.