Shinji Aoba, the man suspected of setting a fire that killed 34 people at the Kyoto Animation studio, remains hospitalized and too injured to be officially arrested and questioned. Police in Kyoto have obtained an arrest warrant for Aoba but cannot serve it because of his condition.
Police sources have raised the death toll from last Thursday’s devastating attack to 34, one more than previously reported. The fire killed 13 men and 21 women, making it the deadliest outbreak of violence in Japan in recent memory.
Police hope to charge Aoba with murder and arson. A motive for the attack remains unclear, but some witnesses have reported that the arsonist blamed Kyoto Animation for stealing his ideas.
Aoba is suspected of buying gasoline from a nearby filling station, pouring it around the first floor of the studio and setting it ablaze. A melted lighter was found at the scene. Police said they believe that a bag containing multiple knives and a hammer, which were found at the scene of the fire, belong to Aoba.
The suspect was severely burned in the attack. He was initially hospitalized in Kyoto, but was subsequently airlifted to another facility in nearly Osaka.
Local media reports carry multiple witness accounts of Aoba checking out the area near the studio in the days leading up to the attack. The witnesses include a woman at a nearby convenience store, a student who saw a man resembling Aoba lying on a bench, and another student who reported seeing him on two separate occasions.
Aoba was sentenced to more than three years in jail after a 2012 robbery. But he was released early because of an unspecified mental illness.