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Man resembling Kyoto arson suspect seen near HQ of anime company

23 July 2019 09:28

KYOTO. KAZINFORM - A man resembling the suspect in last week's deadly arson attack that claimed 34 lives at a Kyoto Animation Co. studio was seen near the company's headquarters a day before the fire, investigative sources said Monday, Kyodo reports.

The man looked like Shinji Aoba, who has admitted to using gasoline to set fire to the three-story building, and was spotted pushing a loaded handcart also near the company's main office in the city of Uji, about a kilometer from the studio, at around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the sources said.

Surveillance camera footage showed the man was wearing clothes similar to those worn by the suspect on the day of the fire, they said, adding the suspect visited an internet cafe days before the attack.

Local police believe Aoba, 41, might have gathered information on areas close to the studio at the cafe in Kyoto before walking around some of the places.

His wallet contained cash and a driver's license with his address in Saitama Prefecture, but no mobile phone has been found from his belongings.

Since he is not from Kyoto, the police suspect he was studying areas around the studio in advance at the cafe.

Surveillance camera footage also showed a man who looked like Aoba purchasing two red gasoline cans at a store around 5 kilometers south of the studio, a few days before the incident.

Aoba is believed to have bought 40 liters of gasoline from a gas station near the site 30 minutes before the incident and carried gasoline in two 20-liter cans to the studio on a cart, the sources said.

He allegedly entered the studio screaming «Die!» and set light to about 10 liters of gasoline, resulting in the deaths of 21 women and 13 men aged between their 20s and 50s, according to the police.

The usually closed security shutter of the studio's front entrance was open for visitors on Thursday, the day of the attack. It is possible Aoba checked the status of the entrance before torching the studio, the sources said.

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