Suspect in Horrific Anime Studio Arson Finally Arrested

Police waited until Shinji Aoba recovered somewhat from his own burns
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2020 12:04 AM CDT
10 Months Later, Suspect in Arson That Killed 36 Arrested
In this July 18, 2019, file photo, firefighters respond to a building fire of Kyoto Animation's No. 1 studio, in Kyoto, western Japan.   (Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese police on Wednesday arrested a suspect in the deadly arson at a Kyoto anime studio last year after he recovered enough from his own severe burns to respond to the police investigation, the AP reports. Kyoto police said they arrested Shinji Aoba, 42, on murder and arson allegations, 10 months after obtaining the warrant because they had to wait for Aoba to recover. Police also reportedly waited to arrest him until Japan’s coronavirus emergency was fully lifted this week. Aoba is accused of storming into Kyoto Animation's No. 1 studio on July 18 last year, setting it on fire and killing 36 people. The attack shocked Japan and drew an outpouring of grief from anime fans worldwide.

Police, quoting witnesses to the attack, have alleged Aoba arrived carrying two containers of flammable liquid, entered the studio’s unlocked front door, dumped the liquid and set it afire with a lighter. About 70 people were working inside the studio in southern Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, at the time of the attack. Aoba sustained severe burns on his face, torso, and limbs, and was unconscious for weeks. He reportedly still cannot walk or feed himself without assistance. Japanese television footage Wednesday showed Aoba, his face scarred and eyebrows lost apparently from the fire, strapped to a stretcher as he was carried into a police station. Police have said Aoba told them he set the fire because he thought ”(Kyoto Animation) stole novels.” Prosecutors are expected to seek formal criminal charges against him in a few weeks.

(Read more Kyoto stories.)

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