People flee from a Keio Line train at Kokuryo Station in Tokyo on Oct. 31. (Photo courtesy of @siz33, via Kyodo)

KYODO NEWS

TOKYO — A man who was arrested after injuring 17 people in a knife and arson attack on a train on the night of Halloween told police he targeted Tokyo in hopes of killing as many people as possible, investigative sources said Tuesday.

“I thought I could kill a lot of people in Tokyo,” 24-year-old Kyota Hattori, who wore a costume reminiscent of Batman villain the Joker during the attack, was quoted as saying by one of the sources.

Videos and photos of the incident, which took place on a Keio Line train on Sunday night, were posted on social media by eyewitnesses and showed the suspect at the scene wearing a bright green shirt, dark tie and purple suit.

Tokyo police referred Hattori to prosecutors Tuesday on suspicion of attempted murder.

Hattori came to Tokyo in late September from his native city of Fukuoka a few months after quitting a company he worked at for three years. After leaving the southwestern Japan city, he stayed at hotels in Kobe and Nagoya while accumulating debts, according to the sources.

In response to the incident, the transport ministry on Tuesday convened an emergency meeting to discuss preventive measures with railroad companies as the Tokyo metropolitan area has recently witnessed several attacks on trains and station premises.

The ministry ordered the companies to promptly open train doors at a platform in the event of an emergency even if train cars do not stop at the right place.

It held a similar meeting after a man stabbed or slashed 10 passengers in August on an Odakyu Electric Railway commuter train in the capital’s Setagaya Ward.

Of the 17 injured people, a 72-year-old man remains in critical condition after allegedly being stabbed in the chest by Hattori while the limited express train was still in motion around 8 p.m. on Sunday, according to the police.

The suspect also allegedly started a fire on the train using lighter fluid. Video recorded by people on the train showed passengers running to escape a large blaze in one of the carriages.

The other 16 victims, ranging in age from their teens to their 60s, sustained minor injuries, including smoke inhalation.

Hattori was quoted as saying by the police that he targeted Halloween as the trains would be busy with passengers.

About two hours before the incident, he visited Tokyo’s Shibuya district, a hotspot where throngs of costumed partygoers celebrate the festival, the police said.

After arriving in Tokyo, the items purchased by Hattori included the Joker costume, five Zippo lighters and more than 10 cans of lighter fluid, the sources said, adding he put the fuel into five plastic bottles, one 2 liters in size and the rest 500 milliliters.

The police found a knife, four plastic bottles containing lighter fluid and aerosol cans in a train car. It is believed that about 2 liters of the fuel were used in the arson attack.

The sources have said he adores the Joker, a long-running character in the Batman franchise.

Hattori told investigators he had prepared the fluid to burn on the train, indicating the premeditated nature of the attack inspired by the August knife rampage in which the 36-year-old splashed cooking oil on an Odakyu train that failed to ignite.

Hattori was quoted as saying he “wanted to kill people and be given the death penalty” and that he had been “thinking from around June of being sentenced to death.”

He also said he had failed in work and had troubled relationships with his friends, according to the police.

The incident, which caused panic and sent passengers scrambling through windows of the train when its doors were not immediately opened, took place on a 10-car service headed to Shinjuku, a busy station in central Tokyo, from Hachioji in the west of the capital.

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