37 dead, mostly preschoolers, in Thai daycare shooting – Orange County Register
By TASSANEE VEJPONGSA
BANGKOK (AP) — A former police officer stormed into a daycare center in northeast Thailand on Thursday, killing dozens of children and teachers and then shooting at others as he fled in the deadliest shooting spree in the country’s history.
The attacker, who authorities said was released from the force earlier this year on drug-related charges, took his own life after killing his own wife and child at home.
A witness said the daycare staff locked the door when they saw the attacker approaching with a gun, but he fired inside. In footage posted online after the attack, distraught family members could be heard crying outside the daycare center and an image showed the floor of a room smeared with blood and sleeping mats lying around. Pictures of the alphabet and other colorful decorations adorned the walls.
At least 37 people were killed in the attack, according to police spokesman Archayon Kraithong. Another 12 people were injured. At least 24 of the dead were children, mostly preschoolers.
“The deceased teacher had a child in her arms,” an unnamed witness told Thai television station Kom Chad Luek at the scene. “I didn’t think he was going to kill kids, but he shot the door and shot right through it.”
Police identified the suspect as 34-year-old former police officer Panya Kamrap. Police Major Paisal Luesomboon told PPTV in an interview that he was fired from the force earlier this year on drug-related charges.
He used multiple weapons in the attack, including a pistol, shotgun and knife, Paisel said.
Local police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapha told reporters that the suspect was a force sergeant before his release and that the main weapon he used was a 9mm pistol he bought himself.
“We’re still investigating all this and need to learn from it,” he said. “Today is the first day and we don’t have all the details yet.”
Police didn’t give a full breakdown of the death toll, but they said at least 22 children and two adults were killed at the daycare center in the northeast Thai city of Nongbua Lamphu.
Firearm-related deaths in Thailand are much lower than countries like the United States and Brazil, but higher than countries like Japan and Singapore, which have strict gun control laws. The firearm-related death rate was about 4 per 100,000 in 2019, compared to about 11 per 100,000 in the US and almost 23 per 100,000 in Brazil.
Last month, a staffer at Thailand’s Army War College in Bangkok shot dead, killing two and wounding another, before being arrested.
The country’s worst mass shooting to date involved a disgruntled soldier who opened fire in and around a mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 people and delaying security forces for about 16 hours before he was finally killed by them.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was due to travel to the city on Friday, told reporters that the former officer was initially reported to have personal problems.
“This must not happen,” he said. “I feel deep sorrow for the victims and their families.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of a Thai TV channel. It’s Kom Chad Luek, not Kom Chad Leuk.
Associated Press writers David Rising, Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, Elaine Kurtenbach, and Grant Peck contributed to this story.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/06/37-dead-mostly-preschoolers-in-thai-day-care-rampage/ 37 dead, mostly preschoolers, in Thai daycare shooting – Orange County Register