A man in Tokyo has been arrested after allegedly going on a stabbing rampage on a train on Halloween while dressed as the Joker. He is accused of stabbing at least 17 people and starting a fire in a carriage, before taking a seat and smoking a cigarette. He was subsequently taken into custody by police.
Eyewitnesses told Japanese national broadcaster NHK of their fear during the attack. “I thought it was a Halloween event,” one witness said. “Then I saw a man walking this way, slowly waving a long knife.” The alleged attacker is believed to have sprayed hydrochloric acid inside the first and second cars of the train before setting them on fire. People rushed to escape through the train’s windows as the fire spread. A video posted to social media showed over a dozen people fleeing a burning carriage and huddling at the end of the next carriage.
Police were later seen entering the carriage where the suspect, dressed as one of Batman’s most famous nemeses, was seated. Reports say the man did not resist as he was arrested and taken into custody.
A man who filmed footage of the incident told NHK that he saw passengers fleeing before hearing an explosion. Shunsuke Kimura jumped from a window in an attempt to escape, but fell on the platform and hurt his shoulder. He said, “Train doors were closed and we had no idea what was happening, and we jumped from the windows. It was horrifying.”
— 生形たけし (@takahashi9811) October 31, 2021
Another passenger told the broadcaster that the attacker didn’t display any emotion during the attack. “He held a knife and started spreading liquid,” she said. “He was committing this act without showing any emotion, just mechanically. I think that brought fear to everyone.”
Rail services were partially suspended after the incident, which took place just before 8 pm near Kokuryo in Tokyo’s western suburbs. Kyodo News said 15 people had been injured, while NHK reported that 17 were hurt, including a man in his 60s who was in serious condition.
The character of the Joker is one of Batman’s most recognisable adversaries, and has famously been played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix and Jared Leto. 2019’s Joker, starring Phoenix and which focused on the character’s origin story, caused concern amongst people who felt the film was excusing or justifying the character’s violent response to feeling unheard or ignored. These concerns were exacerbated by the adoption of Phoenix’s Joker as a relatable figure by a certain subset of men who feel betrayed by a society they view as heavily favouring women.
This article first appeared on Over60.