Suspected Gunman Holds a Hostage in Post Office Near Tokyo


The police in Japan arrested a suspect on Tuesday night after an armed man holed up in a post office in a Tokyo suburb and took two hostages, prompting a nearly eight-hour standoff that was an unsettling episode for a country where gun violence is extremely rare.

The gunman had released one hostage earlier on Tuesday. Three hours later, after a second hostage ran out of the building, the police stormed the premises and arrested an 86-year-old suspect, according to NHK, a public broadcaster.

The police were first notified of the situation when an employee inside the post office in Warabi city called the authorities at around 2:15 p.m. to say there was a gunman inside, according to Taira Masuda, a spokesman for the police headquarters in Saitama Prefecture. The hostages were two female postal workers in their 20s and 30s, the police said, and negotiators communicated with the gunman by telephone throughout the evening.

At around 7:15 p.m., NHK showed footage of a woman in her 20s walking out of the post office without injury. Two hours later, the second hostage, a woman in her 30s and also a postal worker, apparently escaped from the building. The police stormed the post office just after 10 p.m. and arrested the suspect, according to NHK. The broadcaster named the suspect as Tsuneo Suzuki.

The initial call about the hostage-taking at the post office came about an hour after two men were shot less than a mile away at a hospital in Toda city, according to Mr. Masuda.

Students and faculty at a dozen elementary schools and six middle schools in Toda went into lockdown on Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the City Board of Education.

The two men shot at the hospital, a doctor and a patient, had non-life-threatening injuries, according to NHK. A hospital spokesman referred inquiries to the police.

Japan has some of the toughest laws for buying firearms in the world, and fatal shootings are extremely rare. Last year, Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister, was assassinated by a gunman during a political campaign speech. It was one of only four deaths by a firearm in all of 2022.

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