Suspected Cop Killer Had Troubles at Home and Work

Police say the man who killed two people in central Japan on June 26th walked into a police outpost carrying weapons in both hands. They say he entered with the intention of stealing a gun from an officer.

Keita Shimazu is a former member of Japan's Self-Defense Forces. The 21-year-old was a part-time worker at the time of his arrest. Police say he knocked on the back door of the outpost, and then stabbed and killed a patrolman before taking his gun. The officer reportedly had dozens of stab wounds.

Shimazu fled to a nearby elementary school where he shot and killed a security guard. He was arrested after a confrontation at the school during which he was shot. Police say he is in the hospital, conscious but in critical condition with wounds to internal organs. His motive is still unclear.

Before the killing

Shimazu was working at a restaurant on the day of the murders. He was talking with his manager, and then assaulted him, before leaving the restaurant at around 2 PM. The restaurant operator says the manager had called in Shimazu for a talk because he wasn't following instructions.

After attacking his manager, Shimazu is said to have sent his family a message telling them he had been in a quarrel and they should throw his belongings away. He then took off his uniform and left the restaurant, committing the first killing at the police outpost about 3 kilometers away.

Assistant Police Inspector Kenichi Inaizumi was the victim. He was stabbed to death. Police say the suspect used 3 types of blades, including a knife and an axe. The autopsy revealed that Inaizumi was also hit by a bullet.

A man who runs a beauty parlor nearby says an assistant from the outpost came and told him an officer had been stabbed and asked him to call the emergency number. He says he made the call.

Suspect roams around residential area, carrying gun

Eyewitnesses say Shimazu wandered around a nearby residential area holding the gun. One resident says they saw a man with a knapsack leave a bloodied jacket behind. Several blood stains were found on the road in the area.

Another eyewitness says he saw the suspect coming face to face with the school guard. Shinichi Nakamura was on traffic duty. He was shot to death. The autopsy showed he had been hit by a single bullet.

A person who lives next to the school says he was able to see from his window the suspect running away, holding a gun. He says he saw police officers chase the man and jump on top of him, and what appeared to be an axe and a knife lying nearby.

Police say the gun had 5 bullets inside when Shimazu stole it. By the time he was arrested, the chamber was empty.

The day after the incident, people laid flowers on a makeshift altar set up in front of the police outpost.

One child says she often walked past the outpost, and that the officer had always been kind to her. The mother says she remembers seeing the officer standing in front of the outpost, keeping watch, making sure children and everybody else in the community were safe.

The officer, Kenichi Inaizumi, used to serve in the prefectural police headquarters' anti-drug unit. He would visit junior high schools to warn students about the dangers of drug use. One neighbor says he was dedicated to his work and was very sincere.

The other victim, school security guard Shinichi Nakamura, was 68. His wife issued a statement, saying that she's finding it extremely hard to accept the reality that her husband had been killed so suddenly, for no reason. One neighbor says he loved looking after flowers in his garden. "He was a loving grandfather," she says. "He was always nice to everybody. It's so tragic he had to die like this.

Troubles with others

Around 10 AM the day after the incident, police searched Shimazu's home.

Teachers at the junior high Shimazu attended say he was a member of the kendo club, but he quit in his second year due to troubles with other members. He then almost stopped attending school.

A family acquaintance says he heard from the father that his relationship with his son had been getting strained. The acquaintance says the relationship had got to the point that the father decided to live separately for about half a year. But things did not get better after that, it seems.

Japanese police to get new holsters

Shimazu joined the Ground Self-Defense Force in March, 2015. He was assigned to an infantry unit at the GSDF's Kanazawa camp. He retired from the force in March of last year. While serving at the camp, his job included preparing artillery charges for firing drills.

A former GSDF officer told NHK that the force gives members the opportunity to learn how to handle firearms but that instilling in them a strict sense of discipline is always part of training. He also says that all well-trained GSDF personnel are keenly aware of how dangerous the weapons they deal with are.

This is not the first time that police have had their guns stolen. Since 2013, there have been six other cases in which officers have had their pistols forcibly taken away. In three of the cases, the guns were then fired, injuring two officers.

In response to the Toyama case, the National Police Agency has decided to speed up a plan to introduce a new type of pistol holster with enhanced security. The Agency originally planned to introduce it in 2020.