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Neighbors describe alleged stabber at facility for disabled as 'cheerful'

The area where suspect Satoshi Uematsu's home lies is seen in the lower part of this image, and the Tsukui Yamayuri En facility for the disabled is seen in the upper part, in Sagamihara on July 26, 2016. (Mainichi)

SAGAMIHARA, Kanagawa -- Locals described a man arrested after the fatal stabbing of residents at a facility for the intellectually disabled here on July 26 as a "cheerful person" who was friendly with his neighbors.

Satoshi Uematsu, 26, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over the incident, which occurred at the Tsukui Yamayuri En (Tsukui Lily Garden) facility. Uematsu lived in a neighborhood around 500 meters to the southeast of the facility in a two-story house with weeds, apparently untended, growing around the entrance. According to a neighbor, until four or five years ago Uematsu lived there together with his parents, but since the parents moved to a Tokyo suburb Uematsu had been living there alone.

According to a 76-year-old man living nearby, Uematsu's father is an elementary school teacher, and Uematsu was also "trying to become a teacher and had taught in training at a nearby elementary school."

"He would say hello, and I heard that while he was training he was called a good teacher," said the man. He said that he was surprised when recently he saw Uematsu in front of his house and Uematsu's hair, which had been black until then, was dyed blonde.

Another man who lives nearby, aged 73, says, "The rumor in the neighborhood was that Uematsu quit his job after it was found out that he had tattoos." The man said he saw Uematsu sunbathing on a sheet out on the road in front of his house, and Uematsu had tattoos from his shoulders to his back.

The man said, "Just about five days ago Uematsu said hello to me. Sometimes his friends would come over and I would hear them chatting. I don't understand why such a cheerful person would do this."

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