The attack took place Sunday just before 8 p.m. on a Keio Line train bound for Shinjuku. It was approaching Kokuryo Station in Chofu City – a commuter town in western Tokyo. The suspect took out a knife from his bag and stabbed the 72-year-old passenger sitting next to him. He then made his way through other carriages and used cigarette lighter oil to start a fire.
Witnesses describe what happened
Kimura Shunsuke, who was riding the train, says many people came running from the rear carriages. "I wondered what was happening. Then I heard a sound – ‘pong’ – and saw fire and smoke."
Kimura tried to run to the front of the train, which came to an emergency stop at Kokuryo Station.
“The doors didn't open," Kimura says. "So I jumped from a window. I injured my shoulder when I fell. I had no idea what was happening. It was horrific."
"The man slowly walked towards me,” says another witness. “At first I thought it was some kind of Halloween event. But when I saw people running, I realized something bad was happening. A man was holding a long knife. There was blood on the blade.”
"A man with a knife started spraying liquid from a plastic bottle in front of me and my husband," says a different passenger. "A strong smell filled the car, and everybody was in panic. The man's face was expressionless."
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Several other witnesses say the man was dressed up as Batman villain the Joker. Police say he told them that he admires the character.
Suspect ‘wanted death penalty’
Many passengers escaped onto the platform through the train windows because the doors remained closed. When police arrived, they found the suspect sitting on a seat, smoking a cigarette and holding a knife. He co-operated when officers asked him to drop the weapon.
He has been named as Hattori Kyota. The 24-year-old was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. Police say he had spent about 30 minutes in Shibuya, a popular spot for Halloween celebrations, and then got on the train.
Hattori reportedly told investigators that he thought his wish to receive the death penalty would be fulfilled if he killed two people or more. He said he chose the night of Halloween for the attack because there would be many passengers.