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Suspect arrested in killing of Vancouver cook Wataru Kakiuchi

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Days after well-known local cook Wataru Kakiuchi was stabbed to death in Vancouver, a suspect has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The Vancouver Police Department said officers took 32-year-old Timothy Isborn into custody Monday afternoon in the Downtown Eastside.

"We thank everyone in the community for their support while we worked around the clock to collect the evidence that ultimately led to the suspect," Sgt. Steve Addison said in a news release Wednesday.

Kakiuchi, who was also 32, was found fatally injured near Main and Union streets in the early morning hours of June 5. He died before he could be taken to hospital.

Justin Ault, Kakiuchi’s long-time friend and former boss, says Kakiuchi was out with friends shortly before he was killed.

“He walked one of our former cooks back to his apartment which was very close to where he was murdered and was just trying to hail a cab,” said Ault. “It’s just such a waste and didn’t need to happen.” 

Authorities did not comment on a possible motive Wednesday, but said there's no indication Isborn and Kakiuchi knew each other.

After the killing, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim described Kakiuchi's death as a "senseless act of violence" that left the city in "shock and mourning."

The victim was a Japanese citizen who came to Canada on a work permit years ago. He had become a popular cook at Hapa Izakaya, where he was first hired in 2015.

Kakiuchi was between work permits when he died but planned to return to Hapa Izakaya's Yaletown location eventually, according to Justin Ault, the restaurant's owner.

Ault says news of the arrest and murder charge is bittersweet.

“A mix of emotions, first one is yeah they got him. Relief,” said Ault. “Then almost another wave of sadness.” 

Speaking to CTV News last week, Ault described Kakiuchi as someone who was upbeat and had no enemies – "one of those people who would light up a room."

“He was just positive," Ault said. "Full of life, energy."

While announcing Isborn's arrest Wednesday, police credited members of the public for coming forward with information that was integral to tracking down their suspect.

Ault told CTV News Kakiuchi’s father arrived from Japan on Monday, and his mother is expected to arrive on Thursday.

Addison said Isborn was not someone VPD had "extensive dealings with" and he’s believed to have moved to Vancouver in recent years, previously spending time in Alberta. 

Authorities noted the investigation into Kakiuchi's death is ongoing, and urged anyone with information to call the VPD's Homicide Unit at 604-717-2500. 

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