The authorities had officially arrested on Wednesday the suspect in the deadly arson attack at Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building in Kyoto’s Fujimi Ward.
42-year-old Shinji Aoba was arrested for allegedly committing arson and murder after he was deemed to have sufficiently recovered from the life-threatening burns, police said.
The suspect was arrested at a Kyoto hospital where he was being treated, and he was transferred to a local police station for questioning. He was wearing a mask and lying on a stretcher during his transfer, and serious burn marks can be seen on his face and body.
Aoba has admitted in setting the fire to the anime studio building, according to the police. He was quoted saying that there was “no mistake” in the allegations against him.
According to the police, the suspect has shown no remorse on his actions and did not apologize for his alleged acts, and also said “I thought I could kill many people by using gasoline.”
The authorities were planning to arrest the suspect earlier, but complications brought by COVID-19 had delayed the action, including an infection at the detention center where the suspect is being held.
In response to the arrest, Kyoto Animation said in a statement, “We have nothing to say to the suspect… Our fellow workers whose lives were lost will never come back and the wounds of our colleagues will never be healed.”
The statement, which was issued by its representatives, continued saying that the families and friends of the victims “will have to face an irreversible reality” and they can only do the same, but believes that the police will pursue the criminal liability of the suspect to the fullest extent of the law.
Relatives of the victims has told Kyodo News that they hope that the authorities will get to the bottom of the suspect’s motive.
Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building, located in Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture, was engulfed in a devastating fire on July 18 last year, which took the lives of 36 people and severely injuring 33 others. The fire took about five hours before it was extinguished.
Local police said that there were about 74 people inside the building when the fire had started. They also said that out of the 36 people that died on the attack, 22 were women and 14 were men.
The arson-hit building was completely demolished last April, and there are discussions with the victim’s families and local community on whether a memorial can be installed on the former building site.
According to previous reports, Shinji Aoba, who was 41-years-old at that time, allegedly bought 40 liters of gasoline, which was then transported through a push-cart to the Kyoto Animation building. Several witnesses has identified him as the person who threw gasoline inside the building and set it on fire.
Investigative sources has told the media that the suspect had a “grudge” against Kyoto Animation, accusing the anime studio of stealing his novel.
Hideaki Hatta, the company’s chief executive officer, has stated last year that he had never heard his name before, but confirmed of receiving death threats. He later said that the company had received a work under the same name as Aoba, but did not passed its screening and denied of any anime being based on his work.
Aoba has a prior criminal history and a history of mental illness.
The Kyoto Prefectural Government is currently working on the distribution of the donations, which has a total of JP¥3,314,438,000 (over PHP1.5 billion), to the injured and families of the deceased.
The donation came from those collected through a GoFundMe page by North American anime licensor Sentai Filmworks and directly through a deposit account by the animation studio.