An hour after a shooting that left two people injured, a doctor in his 40s and a patient in his 60s, earlier on Tuesday when explosions that sounded like gunfire were reported outside a general hospital in the city of Toda, according to Saitama prefectural police.
According to the authorities, the victims’ injuries were not potentially fatal and they were both conscious. In accordance with Kyodo News, the victims were reportedly attacked while inside a first-floor consulting room, and window fractures had been discovered.
“At approximately 2:15 pm today (0515 GMT), a person has taken hostages and holed up at a post office in Chuo 5-chome area of Warabi city… The perpetrator is possessing what appears to be a gun,” the city’s authorities said on their website earlier. “Citizens near the scene are urged to follow police instructions and evacuate in accordance with police instructions.”
However, following the safe release of two hostages in an incident that officials believed may have been connected to a previous shooting at a hospital, police broke off an eight-hour standoff at a post office north of Tokyo by apprehending the armed suspect.
Pictures on TV showed a man inside the post office wearing a dark coat and baseball cap over a white blouse, and a gun-like object hanging from a rope around his neck. Tsuneo Suzuki, an 86-year-old Toda resident, was identified by police as the suspect. He was taken into custody on suspicion of coercion and hostage-taking, crimes that carry a maximum 10-year jail sentence.
Suzuki is accused of entering the post office and demanding that police arrange a meeting with an unnamed individual while holding two female employees in their 20s and 30s at gunpoint. Police did not specify who Suzuki was wanting to meet with. In order to ensure the safety of the hostages, police had earlier declined to confirm hostage specifics.
Authorities stated that because the attacks at the hospital and post office might be connected, they were looking into them jointly. In addition, they are investigating a fire in a residence that the suspect is said to have occupied.
Japan has extremely low rates of violent crime, in part due to tight laws prohibiting gun ownership. However, in recent years, there has been increased worry about homemade weapons, like the one used in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022. In addition, police are investigating the gun’s characteristics, such as if it was altered, how he got it, his history, and his motivations.