KYOTO - The suspect in a deadly arson attack on Kyoto Animation Co. has told police that he targeted the company's First Studio housing nearly half of its employees, investigative sources said Saturday.

"I targeted First Studio where the largest number of people (at the company) work. I thought I would be able to injure many people," Shinji Aoba, 41, was quoted by the sources as telling investigators.

The Kyoto prefectural police questioned Aoba on Friday for the first time since the July 18 incident, which killed 36 people and injured 33 others.

First Studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward is the center of the company's anime production. On the day of the incident, 70 out of the company's 176 employees were there.

According to the sources, Aoba had a hammer and several kitchen knives on the day of the incident.

In the questioning at a hospital in Osaka Prefecture where he is hospitalized, Aoba was quoted as saying he was going to use the knives "to attack people who would disrupt him committing the crime."

The suspect explained he would use the hammer to break a window so as to enter the studio if the door were closed.


(Shinji Aoba captured in surveillance camera footage on July 16, 2019)
[Supplied photo]

In an expression that may indicate regret, Aoba said, "I've done things that have gone off the road." He also said he is grateful to the hospital staff for treating him.

He said he expects to be given the death sentence after basically admitting to the allegation, according to the sources.

The questioning was conducted on a voluntary basis after Aoba recovered sufficiently from the severe burns he himself sustained during the incident.

The police are set to arrest him after he becomes strong enough to withstand detention.

The studio was set ablaze after Aoba ignited gasoline inside the three-story building.


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