HAGATNA, Guam » A man accused of killing two Japanese visitors and injuring a dozen others after crashing his car and stabbing people in a major tourist district in Guam has been arrested and faces multiple charges, police said.
Chad Ryan DeSoto, 21, of Tamuning is accused of driving a Toyota Yaris onto a sidewalk and striking seven tourists Tuesday night at an upscale shopping area fronting the Outrigger Guam Resort in Tumon Bay, Guam police spokesman A.J. Balajadia said. DeSoto continued driving on the sidewalk, crashing into the wall of a convenience store. He then left his car and started stabbing people, police said.
DeSoto is charged with two counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder and 13 counts of aggravated assault, Balajadia said. No motive or other details on the investigation were released.
DeSoto was scheduled due to appear before a magistrate judge the Superior Court of Guam today to be formally charged.
Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 14 Japanese tourists were attacked, including two who died. Two of the injured have been released from the hospital after being treated, Suga said.
Japanese media reported the dead were two women aged 28 and 82 and the survivors included an 8-month-old baby.
An official with Japanese travel operator H.I.S. Co. said eight of its customers were injured in the attack — including some with broken bones — but none were killed.
The wreck and alleged knife attack among high-end boutiques and hotels in Tumon Bay’s Pleasure Island district sent frightened hotel guests and others fleeing for safety.
A woman at a nearby café with friends told the Pacific Daily News she saw the car plow through the driveway and into a convenience store at the resort. Ashley Quichocho, 18, of Dededo said the driver got out, ran up to bystanders and began stabbing them.
“He started stabbing someone, and I started freaking out,” Quichocho said. “He was just running back and forth stabbing people.”
Quichocho said she ran to the second floor of the hotel with other guests to escape.
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo issued a statement addressed to “the people of Japan” saying the perpetrator would be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.” Calvo said he is committed to ensuring the safety of visitors to Guam and would increase the police presence in the visitor district.
“This was an isolated incident — something that just doesn’t happen in our community,” Calvo said. “We are shocked, we are grieving with the families, and we extend our deepest condolences to those hurt.”
Guam, U.S. territory and tropical island just 1,500 miles or three hours south of Tokyo by airplane, is heavily dependent on tourism — particularly from Japan — for its economy. It’s well known for scuba diving, white beaches and historic World War II battle sites.
Japanese accounted for 73 percent of the 1.1 million visitors to Guam in the 2011 fiscal year, according to Guam Visitors Bureau data. South Koreans were 13 percent followed by 4 percent from Taiwan.
Mark Baldyga, Guam Visitors Bureau chairman, stressed the incident was unusual.
“Guam has long been considered as one of the safest tourist destinations in the region and it remains so today,” he said in a statement. “U.S. federal immigration and customs protect our borders, and we dedicate substantial resources to ensuring that Guam remains a warm, friendly and completely safe holiday destination.”
Guam, which has a population of about 180,000 and is just 30 miles long, is home to major U.S. naval and air bases. The U.S. also has plans to move several thousand Marines to Guam from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.