A man suspected of torching an animation studio in western Japan shouted that he had been plagiarized and appeared to have planned the attack, media said on Friday after a blaze that killed 33 people in Japan’s worst mass killing in two decades.
The 41-year-old man “seemed to be discontented, he seemed to get angry, shouting something about how he had been plagiarized”, a woman who saw the suspect being detained told reporters.
The unidentified man shouted “Die!” before dousing the entrance to Kyoto Animation headquarters with what appeared to be petrol and setting it ablaze around 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Thursday, media said.
The fire was put out nearly a day later, at about 6:20 a.m. on Friday, media said.
The explosive blaze killed 33 people and 10 more were in critical condition, authorities said late on Thursday, in the worst mass killing since a suspected arson attack in Tokyo killed 44 in 2001.
Nineteen of the 33 who died had been found on the staircase leading up to the roof from the third floor, bodies piled on top of others, Kyodo news agency said, citing authorities.
Firefighters arriving soon after the fire began found the door to the roof was shut but could be opened from the outside, Kyodo said.
The victims may have rushed up the stairs to escape the blaze on the lower floors and found themselves unable to open the door, it added.
A day later, none of the victims’ identities had been disclosed. There were 74 people inside when the fire started, Kyodo said, citing prefectural police.
“I imagine many of the people who died were in their twenties,” said 71-year-old Kozo Tsujii, fighting back tears after laying flowers near the studio in the rain on Friday morning. He said he drives by the studio on his daily commute.
“I’m just very, very sad that these people who are so much younger than me passed away so prematurely,” he said.
On Friday, police investigators searched the smoldering shell of the building for clues in an investigation that Kyodo said covered suspected arson, murder and attempted murder.
“I love fighting games, all things about Japan,” said Blake Henderson, a 26-year-old Alabama native and fan of the anime studio who had come to pay his respects.
“I love Japan so much and this one incident won’t change my entire perspective on Japan, but it still hurts,” he said.