The suspect in the shooting and stabbing that left four people dead in Japan is already in police custody, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported early Friday, citing local police.

Nakano City police received a call Thursday reporting that a “man had stabbed a woman,” a city police official told CNN.

When officers went to the scene, the suspect fired something resembling a hunting rifle, injuring four people, before barricading himself in a building, the official added.

Among the fatalities was a woman in her 40s, who was taken to hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Two police officers have also died of their injuries, NHK reported. The officers were aged 46 and 61, according to police.

A fourth person died Friday, police told Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

Citing investigative sources, NHK said Nagano police asked the Metropolitan Police Department to send a “special investigation team” specializing in dealing with barricade incidents to the scene.

An elderly woman was found unconscious outside the house where the suspect had barricaded himself. She was later pronounced dead, local police told NHK television.

A Nakano City police spokesman told CNN that they had arrested Masanori Aoki, a 31-year-old farmer, on suspicion of killing a 61-year-old police officer by shooting him in the chest with what appears to be a hunting rifle.

Police are investigating the possible motive and how he got the weapon, the spokesman said.

Earlier, Nakano City police had told NHK that the suspect had barricaded himself in a house belonging to Nakano City Council Chairman Masamichi Aoki, who is believed to be the suspect’s father.

According to NHK, a witness to the attack said he saw a woman running toward him, pleading for help, pursued by a masked man wearing camouflage.

Rare Incident of Knife Attack Prompts Evacuation in Nakano City, Japan

The man, who appeared to be in his 30s and wielded a knife several tens of centimeters long, stabbed her in the back, NHK reported.

The city of Nakano urged citizens to stay indoors in a statement posted on social media, and the municipal police spokesman told CNN that authorities had designated an “evacuation zone” with a 300-meter radius around the scene of the incident.

An evacuation center was later opened at a Nakano City middle school gymnasium, according to a spokesman for the Nakano City Crisis Management Division. Local authorities are providing shelter, blankets, food and drinks to about 60 people who have been evacuated there.

Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan, a country of 125 million people. It has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.

However, Japan was rocked last year by a shooting that reverberated around the world.

Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, was killed in a shooting during a campaign speech in Nara in July.

His assassination shocked Japan and the international community, and also raised questions about whether there were sufficient security measures in place to protect him, even though Japan is a safe place.

Obtaining a firearm in Japan is extremely difficult and the suspect in Abe’s shooting used a homemade weapon.

There were nine firearm incidents in Japan in 2022, including the Abe shooting, one fewer than the previous year, according to the National Police Agency.

Of the nine incidents, six are believed to have been committed by gangs and other groups. In total, four people were killed and two were injured in the nine incidents.

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