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The 41-year-old suspect in the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly has told police Friday that he was dissatisfied with the ex-leader and wanted to kill him, but not over his political beliefs.
Tetsuya Yamagami, who hails from Nara – where the 67-year-old Abe was gunned down while making a speech – is currently facing an attempted murder charge. But local police are expected to upgrade the charge to murder, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
“Former Prime Minister Abe was giving a speech normally, but a man came from behind. The first shot heard only a very loud sound and the person did not fall down. However, the moment the second shot was shot, former Prime Minister Abe collapsed,” a witness told NHK. “The [suspect] didn’t seem to run away, he stayed there and the gun was there.”
The killing has sent shockwaves around the world and throughout Japan, a country with notoriously strict gun ownership laws.
Ministry of Defense officials that spoke to NHK said the gun used in Abe’s assassination appears to have been homemade and the suspect, Yamagami, spent three years serving in the country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force between 2002 and 2005.
“The weapon used by Abe’s assailant made a noise that could be compared to an explosion, and white smoke rose into the air after it was discharged. A gunpowder-like smell could be detected afterward,” read a report Friday by the Kyodo News, which added that one of their journalists on-scene said the weapon appeared to have been held together with duct tape.
Abe was struck about two minutes and 20 seconds into his speech, according to NHK.
The broadcaster says video captured prior to the shooting purportedly shows Yamagami scanning his surroundings while standing near a footpath behind Abe.
He then takes something out of a bag he was carrying and walks slowly toward Abe, coming several yards away from him, before raising the gun and opening fire, the station added.
Following his arrest, police found possible explosives at Yamagami’s apartment in Nara, NHK also reported.