On Oct 14, police in Hyogo Prefecture arrested Keiichi Ito, a 52-year-old unemployed man from Chiba Prefecture, on suspicion of violation of the traffic law.
Police had earlier received a telephone call to its 110 emergency number, reporting a car "moving erratically" near Wakihama on the Hanshin Expressway.
About 23 minutes past noon, police spotted the suspect's car approaching the Takamaru interchange in Kobe's Tarumi Ward, and several patrol cars, sirens wailing and red lights flashing, took off in hot pursuit.
The driver of the minicar ignored commands to pull over and left the expressway for ordinary streets. He drove through a residential area with narrow streets and emerged onto a prefectural road, where he slammed against another minicar driving in front of him. He failed to stop and continued driving.
In the meantime, more patrol cars were summoned and set up a roadblock in an attempt to close off his avenues of escape. Ito rammed them and zoomed past, at this time pursued by about 10 patrol cars. Whizzing through Akashi City, he continued in a westward direction toward Kakogawa City. From the Kakogawa Bypass on the Daini Shinmei toll road he turned onto a side road that led to a residential neighborhood.
"They'd also called out a helicopter, and I heard sirens on numerous police cars," a local resident relates. "He went down a narrow street with a 3-story apartment at the end, which becomes a dead end. The minicar drove past me, chased by two patrol cars, and then headed into the apartment's parking lot on the ground floor. The patrol cars moved to cut off his escape, and then yanked the driver -- who was quite a big guy from the looks of him -- out of the car, pushed him face down on the ground and got him under control.
"There was a woman in the front passenger seat. Realizing she couldn't get away, she meekly followed the cops' orders," he said.
"There were six more patrol cars lined up close by and even more near the bypass. The whole thing raised quite a ruckus in the neighborhood," the eyewitness added.
According to police sources, Ito had said: "I thought I might have collided with something but don't remember." He refused to offer any explanation as to why he fled from the police in the first place.
The hood of the minicar was badly damaged; its windshield was cracked in several places and the headlamps were shattered. The door on the passenger side also sported a deep dent.
About two hours elapsed from the time police spotted Ito's car until he was taken into custody.
Nikkan Gendai's reporter could only speculate on what prompted Ito to flee from the police in such a manic manner, but remarked that whatever his reason was, it must have been a good one.© Japan Today