A disgruntled soldier committed the worst mass shooting in Thailand’s history over the weekend, leaving 29 people dead and 57 injured in a mall massacre that took police 16 hours to end, the New York Post reported.
Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma, 32, was killed inside the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday morning after a lengthy standoff with police, but not before he killed his battalion’s commanding officer and his 63-year-old mother-in-law Saturday afternoon, then took guns, ammunition and a Humvee from his military base and proceeded to the mall.
Thomma reportedly fired shots from the street as he drove to the nearby mall, which is in the northern, more rural part of Thailand. He also shot several people at the military base as he fled.
People were killed on the street and in cars before Thomma entered the mall, including several police officers who tried to stop him. Police evacuated hundreds of people from the seven-level mall before they were finally able to end Thomma’s rampage.
Property dispute leads to violence
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told the press that the shooting motivated by a property dispute, according to the BBC. Chan-ocha visited the wounded in the hospital before announcing the tragic death toll.
Thomma posted disturbing images and quotes on his Facebook page during the shooting, including one photo depicting the assailant with a fireball behind him.
“No one can escape death,” Thomma wrote. Later, he said, “I have stopped already.”
The Facebook page has since been taken down, but images and screen shots are still circulating on other social media platforms.
Survivors initially reported that Thomma had taken hostages inside the mall, but police eventually indicated that he had no captives with him in the basement where he had barricaded himself.
Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, a country which allows private firearms ownership. Other than incidents linked to a southern separatist insurgency, gun violence of this sort occurs very infrequently in Thailand, though it is not totally unheard of.
About a month ago, an armed robber killed three people including a two-year-old child and wounded four others while robbing a mall jewelry store in Lopburi, a central Thai city.
The gunman, a 38-year-old school headmaster, was later caught and arrested by authorities.