Van slams into pedestrians in downtown Tokyo, eight injured – Suspect also apparently planned to set vehicle on fire

A car is inspected by police after it injured several pedestrians on Takeshita Street in Tokyo, early Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. A car slammed into pedestrians early Tuesday on a street where people had gathered for New Year's festivities in downtown Tokyo.(Yuta Omori/Kyodo News via AP)

By YURI KAGEYAMA,  Associated Press  TOKYO (AP) 01/01 — A minivan slammed into pedestrians early Tuesday on a street where people had gathered for New Year’s festivities in downtown Tokyo, injuring eight people, police said.

The suspect, 21, Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested and being questioned, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said on customary condition of anonymity.

He is suspected of intentionally trying to kill people by driving the small vehicle through the street. NHK TV footage showed a small van with the entire front end smashed and officers and ambulance workers rushing to the scene.

A ninth person was injured after Kusakabe got out of the car and punched him, police said. His condition was not immediately known.

Police and firefighters inspect around the site of a car attack near Takeshita Street in Tokyo, early Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. A car slammed into pedestrians early Tuesday on a street where people had gathered for New Year’s festivities in downtown Tokyo. (Yuta Omori/Kyodo News via AP)

A large tank filled with kerosene was found in the car, police said. The suspect appeared to have planned to set his car on fire, Mainichi newspaper and other Japanese media reported. Police declined to comment on the reports, saying such possible motives were still under investigation.

The crash occurred early Tuesday on Takeshita Dori, a road well known to tourists and pop culture and fashion fans that runs right by Meiji Shrine in Harajuku, Shibuya ward.

Every New Year’s Eve, the train line that includes Harajuku station runs all night, for people welcoming the new year with a shrine visit.

Japan is a relatively crime free nation with strict gun-control laws. In 2008, a man drove his car into a crowd in the popular Akihabara electronic-shopping district, got off and went on a stabbing spree with a knife. Seven people were killed.

https://www.apnews.com/b796bf4c611645abb2b1d6354c82ba7b

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Arrests, Assault, Crime & Criminals, Injuries, International Policing, Mass Casualty Attacks, Murder/Attempted Murder, Victims of Crime

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