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CHATAN, Okinawa — The mayor of this town adjacent to several U.S. military bases wants the military to keep better control of its juvenile dependents.

The comments came in the wake of an incident a week ago in which a soldier’s 19-year-old son allegedly shot a 50-year-old woman with a metallic pellet from an air rifle.

The boy, considered a minor under Japanese law, remains in Okinawa police custody while they investigate the incident. A police spokesman said the youth admitted shooting at tin cans from the balcony of his off-base home.

“I was strongly shocked by the fact that people and cars were hit,” Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. He said the incident increased the fears of residents of the town’s Hamagawa district, a popular shopping and entertainment area.

“Local residents have already expressed apprehension that crime in the area might increase as more and more servicemembers and their families move into the neighborhood,” he said. “But the apprehension became a reality with this shooting incident.”

The incident took place shortly after 12:30 p.m. on March 9. The woman was wounded in the chest and was treated at the nearby U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Lester.

“The neighborhood where the shooting took place is heavily populated area with a day care center, children’s center and other public facilities,” Noguni said. “Because it is a school zone, many parents have voiced concern of the safety of their children.”

He noted that although the number of crimes by U.S. servicemembers has decreased in recent years, crimes by dependents has risen.

“That concerns us,” he said. “Japan is not a gun-toting society.”

Noguni said he has filed complaints with the Okinawa Liaison Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Defense Administration’s Naha Bureau and the U.S. Forces Japan Okinawa Area Field Office.

The USFJ office had no comment Thursday.

Under Japanese law, air rifles that shoot metallic projectiles are strictly controlled, said Hidemi Tedokon, chief of the Community Safety Division of the Okinawa Prefectural Police station in Okinawa City.

“Firearms that fire metallic projectiles or other projectiles that harm human beings and/or animals are subject to punishment under the Firearm Control Law,” he said. “Also, even fake guns, if they are metal and resemble real guns, are prohibited.”

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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