Tetsuya Yamagami: What we know about the man suspected of shooting Shinzo Abe

Tetsuya Yamagami: What we know about the man suspected of shooting Shinzo Abe
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Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by doctors at Nara Medical University Hospital at 5:03 p.m. local time on Friday, just over five hours after he was shot while delivering a campaign speech to a small crowd on a street.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, has admitted shooting Abe, Nara Nishi police said during a news conference on Friday.

He was taken to the Nara district prosecutor’s office on Sunday morning and is being investigated as a “suspect of murder,” according to police.

Yamagami, who is unemployed, told investigators he hated a particular group he believed Abe was connected to, Nara Nishi police said.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo News Agency have reported that Yamagami, citing police, also said his mother was involved with the group.

Police did not name the group, telling CNN they could not provide any information.

Yamagami was described as a “completely normal” and seemingly “serious” person by at least two people who had interacted with him, Kyodo News also reported.

He was hired through a shipping agency in October 2020 to work in the freight department of a factory in Kyoto Prefecture, the agency reported, citing an unnamed “former senior colleague.”

The former colleague characterized Yamagami as someone who kept to himself.

“When it came to work interviews, he answered, but he didn’t go into his private life. He seemed meek,” the former colleague said, according to Kyodo News. The former colleague added that Yamagami “ate lunch alone in his car” and that “conversations with him never got beyond the topic at hand.”

The former colleague said there were no problems with Yamagami for the first six months of his tenure, until he started showing a “gradual neglect” of labor practices, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

In March, Yamagami took “unauthorized time off” and spoke of “heart problems” and other physical problems, although he had no problems with punctuality or attendance previously. His employment ended on May 15, the agency reported.

An unnamed shipping agency employee who interviewed Yamagami for the job described him as “perfectly normal,” but added that he “didn’t say much” and “had a slightly somber sense of him,” according to the Kyodo news agency.

What weapon was fired?

The suspect used a homemade gun in the shooting, police said, and pictures from the scene showed a gun with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black tape. Authorities later confiscated several handmade pistol-like items from the suspect’s home.

The gun was a weapon-like object measuring 40 centimeters (about 16 inches) long and 20 centimeters wide, police said.

What appears to be a homemade weapon lies near where a security officer arrested a suspect on July 8 in Nara, Japan.

Yamagami made several types of guns with iron barrels wrapped in duct tape, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing police. Police found guns with three, five, and six iron barrels.

The suspect inserted bullets into his hand-made gun, parts of which he bought online, according to NHK, police said. Police believe the suspect used the most powerful weapon he made in the assassination, NHK added.

What was the suspect’s plan?

The suspect told investigators he originally intended to kill Abe with explosives, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

Yamagami originally planned to assassinate Abe at an event in Okayama, a prefecture about a three-hour drive from Nara, NHK reported.

“I thought about killing the former prime minister there (Okayama), but I saw that there are admission procedures at the entrance and I felt it would be difficult to get in,” he told investigators, according to NHK.

Nara police told CNN on Saturday that surveillance footage showed Yamagami exiting Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara on Friday after arriving by train.

How did the security forces react?

At the time of the shooting, Abe was speaking for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of the July 10 House of Lords election. country’s political landscape and continued to campaign for the LDP.

Japan's strict gun laws make gunfights rare

Japan’s National Police Agency said it will review security arrangements put in place ahead of Friday’s shooting, according to NHK. Security was handled by the Nara Prefectural Police, who prepared a security plan for the former prime minister while he was in town.

The agency said several dozen Tokyo Metropolitan Police officers and security personnel were on duty and reportedly watched Abe from all sides during his speech, NHK said.

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