Gunman kills 35 in attack from Thai daycare center
BANGKOK (AP) — A gunman who attacked a day care center in Thailand and then fired from his car as he fled killed more than 30 people on Thursday, including two dozen children, authorities said.
It is the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history. The attacker, identified as a former policeman, killed his wife and child before committing suicide.
Photos and videos posted online from the nursery showed the floor of one room was stained with blood and sleeping mats were strewn about. Pictures of the alphabet and other colorful decorations adorned the walls.
In the videos, frantic family members could be heard crying outside the building. Ambulances stood there while police and medical personnel walked around.
A witness told Thai television Kom Chad Leuk at the scene that they had locked the door to the building when they saw the suspect approaching with a handgun, but he fired through it.
« The teacher who died, she had a child in her arms, » said the woman, whose name was not specified. « I didn’t think he would kill children, but he shot at the door and shot through. »
Authorities identified the assailant as a former police officer and said he entered the daycare center after noon in the northeastern Thai town of Nongbua Lamphu.
Twenty-two children and two adults were killed in the building before the attacker fled, according to a police statement. But he continued to shoot people from his car, Police General Paisal Luesomboon told The Associated Press.
Police identified the suspect as 34-year-old former policeman Panya Kamrap. Paisel told PPTV in an interview that he was released from the force earlier this year due to drug offences.
During the attack, he used multiple weapons, including a handgun, shotgun and knife, Paisel said.
After returning home, he killed his wife and child and then himself, police said.
Police said he killed two other children and nine adults outside the daycare, including his wife and son.
Gun-related deaths in Thailand are much lower than countries like the United States and Brazil, but higher than countries like Japan and Singapore that have strict gun control laws . The rate of gun-related deaths in 2019 was around 4 per 100,000, compared to around 11 per 100,000 in the United States and nearly 23 per 100,000 in Brazil.
Last month, a clerk fired on colleagues at the Thai Army War College in Bangkok, killing two and injuring another before being arrested.
The country’s worst mass shooting involved a disgruntled soldier who opened fire in and around a shopping mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 and holding back forces security for about 16 hours before finally being killed by them.
Associated Press writers David Rising, Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, Elaine Kurtenbach and Grant Peck contributed to this story.
Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press