Early Tuesday morning in Sagamihara, a city about 35 miles west of Tokyo, a man entered a home for disabled people by sneaking through a window while residents were sleeping. Armed with multiple knives, the 26-year-old former employee at the facility proceeded to kill 19 patients and injure another 26.
The incident is believed to be the deadliest mass killing in modern Japanese history, surpassing the death toll of 12 in the 1995 sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway station. Here's what we know so far about the rampage:
- Authorities have identified the suspected attacker as Satoshi Uematsu. He began working at the Tsukui Yamayuriefacility in 2012, but had not been employed there since February. He was forced to resign after "several disturbing episodes," including an incident where he threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people "for the sake of Japan," according to the New York Times.
-Uematsu used a hammer to break into the facility through a ground-level window 2:20am. He tied up several employees, then slit the throats of multiple sleeping patients. Of the 26 injured victims, 13 are reportedly in critical condition. The youngest victim was 19. The oldest was 70.
-Uematsu fled after the attack, then showed up around 3am at the local police station in Sagamihara carrying a bloodied knife. He reportedly told the cops: "All the handicapped should disappear."
-In February, Uematsu sent a letter to the speaker of the lower house of Japan's Parliament detailing his plan for the massacre. He reportedly wrote that he would conduct an attack "during night shift hours when fewer workers are there" and said that he would "tie workers with bands so that they cannot move and communicate with outside people."
-The letter, which was dropped off at the politician's house, called for legalizing euthanasia for people with severe disabilities, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. Authorities were made aware of the letter and police questioned Uematsu about it. He left his job at the Tsukui Yamayurienfacility soon after.
-Uematsu now faces at least one charge of attempted murder, but authorities anticipate more charges to come, the Times reported.
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