The arson suspect arrested by Prefectural Police on July 18, 2019, responsible for the harrowing tragedy at Kyoto Animation Studio’s Building 1, has already been officially identified as 41-year-old Shinji Aoba.
Aoba stated that he carried out the crime out of a grudge, alleging that Kyoto Animation stole his novel. However, investigators have been unable to confirm the said theft allegation, or point which novel Aoba worked on. Police have also found no known connections between Aoba and any of the staff working at KyoAni, and was never employed by the company in any form or manner.
The suspect lived in the Ibaraki Prefecture before being sentenced to 3 and 1/2 years in prison for a convenience store robbery. Upon his release, he briefly stayed in a halfway home for former convicts before residing in Saitama’s Minuma Ward just north of Tokyo. On July 14th, the suspect had a row with a fellow neighbor due to noise complaints. The neighbor was said to be assaulted by a distraught Aoba, accusing the former of banging on the walls. Aoba threatened to kill the neighbor and said that he has “a lot on his plate right now.” The neighbor however maintains that the sounds were not coming from his end of the loft. After the incident, the neighbor notified the Police, fearing that Aoba might actually go through with his threat.
On July 18th, Aoba went with his arson attempt, said to be the second worst arson incident in Japan, killing 33 and injuring 35 more. Police have found two 20-liter gasoline containers, a bag with several knives, and a hammer, suspecting that Aoba was meant to hurt as many people as possible in a premeditated attack.
KyoAni’s building 1 had security gates that only open upon scanning a valid ID. These were unfortunately taken down on the day of the incident to accommodate a number of visitors to the premises.
Top photo: Kyodo News via Mainichi Shimbun