THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 11, 2022 at 18:10 JST
The suspect accused of gunning down former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted to police that he test-fired at a religious group’s facility that he bore a grudge against in Nara Prefecture the day before.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, told investigators, “I shot at a religious group’s facility in Nara Prefecture in the early hours of July 7,” according to Nara prefectural police on July 11.
Police said a security camera near the facility captured a vehicle that resembled a minivan that belongs to the suspect, which police have seized, early on July 7.
Police believe that Yamagami was checking to see if a gun that he made worked and how powerful it was.
According to investigative sources, Yamagami has told police that he had borne a grudge against the religious group and “targeted Abe because he has a close connection to” the group.
Multiple residents who live near the facility located in the city of Nara told The Asahi Shimbun that they heard “a loud noise” at around 4 a.m. on July 7.
A woman in her 50s said, “I heard a big boom as if a heavy iron plate was dropped.”
“My neighbors were surprised by the sound and came out to see what it was,” she recalled.
The facility is located about 1 kilometer west of Yamagami’s home.
Police have seized several wooden boards, each about one-meter square, from the rear deck of Yamagami’s vehicle. All the boards have multiple holes in them.
When police asked about the boards, Yamagami said, “I used them to test a gun.”
Police said Yamagami apparently used these boards at another location on a different occasion from the July 7 shooting at the religious group’s facility.
PLANNED OVER A YEAR
Police believe Yamagami had planned to attack Abe for at least more than a year because he told investigators that he started making guns around spring 2021.
The firearm seized at the site where Abe was shot and killed in Nara on July 8 while giving a campaign speech is 40 centimeters long and 20 cm high. It has two barrels.
Up to six projectiles can be fired by pulling the trigger once, police said in describing the workings of the gun.
Police searched Yamagami’s apartment in Nara and seized at least five homemade firearms.
They have a similar structure to the weapon seized at the shooting scene, police said.
Police also seized spent rounds and plastic containers containing bullets that he purchased on the internet. From the rear deck of the minivan, police confiscated several trays wrapped in aluminum foil.
Yamagami has told investigators he used these trays to make “dry shells.”
Police believe Yamagami purchased parts on the internet to make a firearm as well as ammunition.
Yamagami has told investigators, “I also tried to make a bomb,” sources said.
A neighbor of the suspect told The Asahi Shimbun that sounds like woodworking at night could be heard coming from Yamagami’s room.
Police believe Yamagami repeatedly had made prototypes of firearms and checked their power ahead of the day that Abe was shot.
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