Police in Japan are continuing to investigate Shinzo Abe’s assassination following the arrest of suspect Tetsuya Yamagami at the scene moments after the fatal shooting last Friday.
Police say Yamagami, 41, is suspected of murder but has not been formally charged.
Yamagami said he held a grudge against a certain group, to which he believed Abe had ties, and which his mother had been involved with, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News Agency, citing police.
Nara police said Monday that Yamagami may have carried out a test shooting in the early hours of Thursday morning against the building of “a certain group” in Nara prefecture, using the homemade gun he later killed Abe with.
Investigators said a vehicle believed to be Yamagami’s car was seen on security cameras close to where Thursday’s test shooting reportedly took place. Police refused to name the group, and the security footage has not been made public.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm what group the suspect was referring to.
The suspect’s mother was a member of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, said Tomihiro Tanaka, the church’s Japan office chairman, in a statement on Monday.
The suspect was never a member of the church, while his mother has been a member who attended church events about once a month, the statement said. Tanaka added that the organization will cooperate with investigators if asked to do so.
Homemade weapon: Yamagami told police he watched YouTube videos to help him make his weapons, NHK reported Monday, citing investigators. He practiced shooting the weapons in the mountains days before the killing, and police found wooden boards with bullet holes in the suspect’s vehicle, according to NHK.
Photos from the scene on Friday show what appeared to be a weapon with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black tape.
Yamagami also told investigators he had initially intended to kill Abe by using explosives at an event in Okayama prefecture, a three-hour drive from Nara, NHK reported — but he reportedly changed his plan due to potential difficulties in entering the event.
As a national leader, Abe was affiliated with multiple groups, organizations and causes, as is common in any democracy. It is unclear if Abe was linked to any group the suspect was talking about.
When asked whether the suspect was working alone or with anyone else, police said they are investigating all possibilities.