KAWASAKI, Japan (AP) — A man carrying a knife in each hand and screaming “I will kill you!” attacked a group of schoolgirls and adults as he walked toward a school bus parked at a bus stop just outside Tokyo on Tuesday, killing two and injuring 16 before killing himself, officials said.
Most of the victims were elementary school girls who were lined up at a bus stop near Noborito Park in the city of Kawasaki when a man in his 50s began slashing them with knives. City officials, quoting police, said the suspect was captured but died from a self-inflicted cut to the neck.
Witnesses described a hellish scene: children and adults falling to the ground, some with their shirts soaked with blood; dozens of children running and screaming for help, with their school bags and books scattered on the ground.
“I heard a scream so I stopped and turned around to see what happened. It was not a normal tone of voice,” said Yasuko Atsukata, adding that she then saw one person collapse, and then another one. “The color of their white shirts turned red after they collapsed, then I understood they got stabbed.”
In a nearby parking lot, a boy looking frightened and in shock had scratches on his face, hands and legs, apparently from falling to the ground as he ran for his life.
Masami Arai, an official at the Kawasaki city office, said 16 people, most of them schoolgirls at a local Catholic school, were injured and three others, including the attacker, were believed to have been killed. Arai said three of the injuries were serious and 13 others were not life-threatening.
Police wouldn’t confirm specifics about the attacker. His identity and motive weren’t immediately known. Witnesses said that as the attack unfolded, a bus driver shouted at the man with two knives, and as he was running away he cut his own neck, collapsing in a pool of blood as the police seized him.
Television footage showed emergency workers giving first aid to people inside an orange tent set up on the street, and police and other officials carrying the injured to ambulances.
Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed the death of sixth-grade schoolgirl Hanako Kuribayashi, 11, from Tokyo. Hospital officials at a televised news conference confirmed her death as well as that of a man in his 30s, saying both had been slashed in the head, chest and face.
Separately, doctors at St. Marianna University School of Medicine said a man in his 50s died at the hospital after being brought in from the crime scene with neck injuries. City officials and the media said the man was the suspect.
Most of the victims attended Caritas Gakuen, a well-known private school founded by Soeurs de la Charite de Quebec, an organization of Catholic nuns in Quebec City in Canada.
All of the victims except for two adults are in elementary school, according to city and hospital officials, and their ages are believed to be from 6 to 12. Caritas Gakuen runs from elementary through high school.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was outraged by the attack and would take all necessary measures for children’s safety.
“It was an extremely harrowing incident in which many small children were victimized, and I feel strong resentment,” Abe said as he was hosting President Donald Trump’s four-day state visit, which ended Tuesday. “I will take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.”
Although Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has had a series of high-profile killings, including in 2016 when a former employee at a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others.
Also in 2016, a man stabbed four people at a library in northeastern Japan, allegedly over their mishandling of his questions. No one was killed. In 2008, seven people were killed by a man who slammed a truck into a crowd of people in central Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district and then stabbed passers-by.
Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.
Associated Press journalist Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.