updated 5/17/2007 4:43:01 PM ET 2007-05-17T20:43:01

An armed man on a rampage at his home in central Japan on Thursday shot and killed a policeman, wounded three others — including his own son and daughter — and took his wife hostage, news reports and police said.

Hisato Obayashi, 50, was in a tense standoff with hundreds of police surrounding his tree-shrouded house in Nagakute city overnight and into Friday morning. One news report said Obayashi was a former mobster.

The violence in the suburb of Nagoya erupted in the afternoon. An unidentified emergency caller to police cried, "My father has gone berserk with a gun!" Kyodo News agency reported.

The shooting was the latest in a series of unusually violent attacks in Japan, a country known for its low crime rates and tight gun laws. Last month a crime boss shot and killed the mayor of Nagasaki.

The sequence of events Thursday was still unclear, but Obayashi appeared to have taken his wife hostage, shot his children and then shot at police responding to the emergency call. The wounded were taken to a hospital.

Police confirmed that Officer Kazuho Hayashi, 23, was shot and killed while trying to evacuate a wounded policeman. Hayashi was a member of police's special assault team to handle hijacking and hostage crises, according to Kyodo.

Area cordoned off
Officials said two other people, Kento Obayashi, 25, and Risa Obayashi, 21 had been shot and wounded. News reports said that Kento and Risa were the gunman's children, but police would not confirm that.

Police said that as of Friday morning, they had not fired a shot in return, and had cordoned off the residential area surrounding Obayashi's home.

"The suspect is still holding his hostage," said a police official who spoke on condition he only be identified by his last name, Yamaguchi. News reports said the hostage was Obayashi's wife, but police could not confirm that.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that Obayashi had once been a gangster. Kyodo said Obayashi was demanding to be put in contact with his daughter. It was unclear if he was referring to the one who was shot or whether he had a second daughter.

The gun violence occurred a month after the mayor of Nagasaki was fatally shot in an attack by an organized crime chief, and a gangster attack that took place in the streets of a Tokyo suburb only a few days later.

The use of guns is still relatively alien to the Japanese public. Handguns are strictly banned, and only police officers and other professionals such as shooting instructors can own them. Hunting rifles are also strictly licensed and regulated.

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