A disgraced former police officer in Thailand killed at least 35 people, including 24 children, in a shooting rampage on Thursday that began at a day care center and ended at his home where he killed his family and himself, authorities said.
The deputy chief of police in the country Lt. Gen. Torsak Sukwimol said the attack began at about 12:30 pm local time in Nong Bua Lamphu district, about 330 miles northeast of Bangkok. Nineteen boys, three girls and two adults were killed at a day care center in front of a gunman, said to be ex-Policeman Panya Khamrab, who drove and shot people on the street, police said.
The suspect drove home and killed his wife and child before killing himself, police said.
A witness told the Thai television Kom Chad Leuk that they had locked the door of the building when they saw the suspect coming with a gun, but he shot through it.
“The teacher died with a child in her arms,” says the woman, whose name has not been released. “I didn’t think he would kill the children, but he shot at the door and shot right through it.”
Photos and videos of the incident posted online showed sleeping mats scattered around the schoolroom, the floor covered in blood, and alphabet pictures and other colorful wall decorations.
The video captured the sound of sobs as distraught family members wept and watched outside the children’s school building. Ambulances stood nearby as police and medical personnel walked through the school grounds. According to Thai media reports, the gunman also used knives in the attack.
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Sukwimol told Bangkok Post that Panya, 34, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the attack. The Post newspaper reports that Panya was fired from the police in June for being found in possession of methamphetamine pills and was due to appear in court on Friday on drug charges.
Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, even in 2020 a soldier opened fire at a shopping mall and other places in the southern Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima, killing 29 people and injuring 58 others.
Deaths caused by guns in Thailand are much lower than in countries like the United States and Brazil, but higher than in countries like Japan and Singapore that have strict gun control laws. The number of gun deaths in 2019 was about 4,000 in 100, compared to 11 in 100 in the US and about 23 in 100 in Brazil.
Distribution: The Associated Press