[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A man shot and killed 37 people in Thailand’s deadliest mass shooting to date.
The massacre, which occurred Thursday at a childcare center in Nongbua Lamphu in the Uthai Sawan Na Klang district, claimed the lives of at least 24 children and 13 adults, including staff members and parents alike. At least 10 more individuals were injured in the tragedy, according to police spokesman Archayon Kraithong.
Police say the shooter arrived at the daycare center around 1:00 p.m. while children were inside napping. A witness recalled seeing staff close and lock the doors when they saw the man approaching, armed with multiple weapons. However, he allegedly shot his way into the locked building and opened fire.
An unnamed witness at the scene told Thailand’s Kom Chad Luek news station:
“The teacher who died, she had a child in her arms. I didn’t think he would kill children, but he shot at the door and shot right through it.”
The shooter has since been identified as 34-year-old former police officer Panya Kamrap, who was fired from the force last year due to drug offenses involving meth, according to Police Major General Paisal Luesomboon via PPTV. In the attack, he used a shotgun, 9mm pistol, and a knife, which were legally-owned weapons, according to police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapha. He noted the main weapon used was the handgun. He told CNN:
“(The shooter) went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy was not there… So he started shooting as well as stabbing people at the nursery.”
One woman at the scene explained:
“Because he’s a parent of one of the kids, at first I thought he was coming to pick up his kids.”
Kamrap then fled the scene in his truck, running down several pedestrians while also opening fire on them as well, before returning to his home where he took the lives of his wife and stepson before ultimately killing himself.
Major General Jirapob Puridet of the CIB revealed the suspect had appeared in court in the Nong Bua Lamphu province on drug charges just hours before “opening fire while the kids were sleeping.” Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has offered his condolences to the affected families, and promised to fast-track the investigation. Kittiprapha explained:
“We are still investigating all of this and have to learn from it. Today is the first day and we don’t have all the details.”
Video footage has since emerged of family members of the victims arriving at the scene, visibly distraught. This is undoubtedly one of the most horrific cases of gun violence in recent history, and we feel deep sorrow for the victims and affected families, who will likely face lifelong mental anguish in the wake of the attack. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.
[Images via BBC]
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