Near the Tsukui Yamayuri En care centre where a knife-wielding man went on a rampage in the city of Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture on July 26, 2016. Photo - AFP / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

Japan knife attack leaves 19 dead, 26 severely injured

TOKYO – At least 19 people were killed and 26 injured in a stabbing spree at a facility for disabled people west of Tokyo on Tuesday morning.

Officer Satomi Kurihara of the Sagamihara Fire Department confirmed the death toll at the Tsukui Yamayurien facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, a residential area approximately 40 kilometers west of the capital.

The 19 people who died, ranging in age from 19 to 70, were all residents at the facility, according to the Kanagawa prefectural government and local fire department.

Police have since arrested Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year old former employee at the facility. Satoshi who reportedly escaped the facility then turned himself in at a nearby police station, telling police: “I did it.”

Other media reports said the man,who was wearing a black T-shirt, did not have a knife when he turned himself in.

The suspect worked at the facility until February, broke in through a window about 2 a.m. Tuesday, Kanagawa Prefecture officials said at a news conference. He was earlier fired after it was found out that he was abusing the elders.

Police said they were still investigating possible motives.

Police said they received a call from an employee of the facility at 2.30 am local time with reports of a man armed with a knife on the grounds of the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility, according to state broadcaster NHK.

CCTV footage obtained by the Japan News Network showed Uematsu allegedly speeding to the site in a black Honda at 1.37am.

The footage shows him running out of the compound and driving away at 2.50am.

Asahi Shimbun reported that the suspect was quoted by police as saying: “I want to get rid of the disabled from this world.”

Twenty-nine emergency squads responded to the attack, Kyodo reported.

Kyodo, citing the facility’s website, said the center had a maximum capacity of 150 people.

A man identified as the father of a patient in the facility told NHK he learned about the attack on the radio and had received no information from the center.

“I’m very worried but they won’t let me in,” he said, standing just outside the cordon of yellow crime-scene tape.