In horrific and tragic news out of Thailand, a crazed gunman massacred over 30 people in a bloody rampage at a nursery, with victims including children as young as two years old, in a shocking explosion of violence that left citizens of the Southeast Asian country shaken and looking for answers.
At least 22 children were among the victims at the child development center in Nong Bua Lamphu where the alleged killer, who has been identified as former policeman Panya Khamrap, “armed with a shotgun, a pistol and a knife, first shot dead multiple adults including an eight-month pregnant woman, before forcing his way into a locked room where he stabbed sleeping children to death,” according to The Daily Mail.
The 34-year-old alleged mass murderer had been in court earlier in the day on drug charges before he arrived at the location, and after becoming “agitated” that his child was not there, began the killing spree that spilled over into nearby streets where Khamrap was “shooting at bystanders and trying to run over panicked pedestrians as he fled in a white van which he torched at his home before killing his wife and child and turning the gun on himself,” the outlet reported.
A total of 35 people were killed along with the shooter with 24 bodies – 19 boys, three girls and two adults – found at the nursery with another adult and young boy killed in a government office outside the center.
(Image: Screengrab/The Daily Mail)
“At the shooter’s house, one boy and four adults were found dead, and another adult at a nearby building was also killed. Three further adults were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead, and 12 more are being treated for injuries,” according to The Daily Mail. “Khamrap was fired from the force last year after failing a drugs test, and he appeared in court today prior to the shootings.”
(Video: The Daily Mail)
The grim toll could have been much worse as fewer children were at the center than usual due to heavy rains, Jidapa Boonsom, a district official who was working nearby at the time of the massacre, told Reuters.
“The shooter came in around lunch time and shot four or five officials at the childcare centre first,” Jidapa said, adding that one of the victims was a teacher who was eight months pregnant.
“At first people thought the shots were fireworks, she said,” according to Reuters. “It’s really shocking. We were very scared and running to hide once we knew it was shooting. So many children got killed, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“The gunman forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping, Jidapa said. She said she thought he killed children there with a knife,” the outlet reported.
“He was already stressed and when he couldn’t find his child he was more stressed and started shooting,” police spokesperson Paisan Luesomboon told ThaiPBS, according to Reuters.
(Image: Screengrab/The Daily Mail)
“According to the shocking incident reported in Nong Bua Lamphu this afternoon, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the lost and injured. I have ordered the commander. Police On the ground for immediate legal action and all involved parties to intervene to provide immediate recovery to all affected people,” said Prime Minister Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in a statement posted to Facebook.
(Image: Screengrab: Facebook)
Mass shootings are rare in Thailand despite gun ownership being higher than other countries in the Southeastern Asian region and the country was left reeling after the senseless act of violence that left so many dead before their lives had even started.
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