A man opened fire at a daycare centre in Thailand’s Uthai Sawan town, killing at least 36 people, including more than 22 children, on Thursday in the nation’s deadliest shooting rampage.
Ten others were injured, of which seven people are still hospitalised. The attack took place in Nongbua Lamphu province in northeastern Thailand.
Who is the shooter?
Police identified the shooter as Panya Khamrab, a former police sergeant who was suspended in January 2022 on drug use charges, reported Thailand-based Bangkok Post. After the carnage, he killed his wife and child before taking his own life.
While police have been unable to establish a clear motive, initial reports suggest that the man was under the influence of drugs when he carried out the attack.
Police said that Panya was dismissed from the force in June.
How it unfolded
The 34-year-old man barged into the childcare facility at around 12.10 pm and opened fire, as per reports. The carnage lasted for approximately an hour. He was reportedly armed with a 9 mm pistol and a knife.
His mother told the police that her son had gone to the court for a hearing in a drug-related case on Thursday morning, reported Bangkok Post. After he returned, he appeared “stressed” and consumed drugs which made him feel “paranoid”, said the report, quoting her statement to the police.
He then headed to the childcare centre, where, unable to find his child, he shot at four staff members having lunch outside and continued inside to shoot the others, it added.
“There were some staff eating lunch outside the nursery and the attacker parked his car and shot four of them dead,” acting chief of the centre Nanthicha Punchum told news agency AFP. “The shooter smashed down the door with his leg and then came inside…,” she added.
Panya then left the scene in a pickup truck to his home around 5 km away from the site of the attack, crashing and injuring other travellers on the road. He shot himself and his family by around 3 pm as the police surrounded his home, as per Bangkok Post.
What action is being taken?
Flags were flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning following what is said to be one of Thailand’s deadliest shootings in recent history.
Royal and government representatives in white, military-style coats joined weeping family members on Friday morning to lay wreaths at ceremonial tables in front of the Young Children’s Development Centre’s main door. Psychologists were on site to assist the bereaved.
The country’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha has ordered a fast-track investigation. “This should not happen. This absolutely should not happen,” he said.
The PM is scheduled to visit the site of the crime in the coming days. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida are scheduled to visit the wounded as well.