By: Bridie Beamish
A sole perpetrator killed 36 –– 24 of whom were children between the ages of two and five –– and injured 10 more in the deadliest massacre witnessed in Thailand on Oct. 6. The attack took place at a child development center northeast of Bangkok, with the suspect using both a knife and gun.
Immediately after the killing spree, Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau began a search to identify the murderer, whom they revealed as Panya Kamrab, a 34-year-old former policeman. The police force suspended Kamrab from duty earlier this year in connection with drug offense charges. The court set Kamrab’s verdict on his case over alleged possession of methamphetamine for Oct. 7. General Damrongsak, the police chief, clarified that Kamrab had no drugs in his system at the time of the attack.
The massacre started around noon when Kamrab arrived at the daycare in search of his two-year-old stepson; when he could not find him, Kamrab became distressed and started to fire his gun. He first began to shoot at staff members, including a teacher who was eight-months pregnant. He then managed to get into three separate rooms where a total of 24 children were sleeping and fatally stabbed all but one of the kids. The lone child survivor was a three-year-old who managed to sleep through the attack in a corner while a blanket covered her body. Kamrab continued to shoot at people on the street as he left the center. After the murders, Kamrab shot himself in his home, after also killing his wife and stepson.
Although a motive for the attack is unknown, Kritsanapong Phutrakul, a police lieutenant colonel and the chair of the faculty of criminology and justice administration at Rangsit University, declared that “[Kamrab] abused drugs and was very stressed and upset about his career, his position, his status. To reduce the risk to Thai society, his gun should have been taken away from him when he was fired.”
The massacre, which exceeded the death toll of the deadliest US school shootings and shook the normally-peaceful community, has left the village with a population of 6,300, as well as the rest of the Thai community, grieving. As the victims’ coffins arrived at a temple in the city in northern Thailand, relatives came together to hold the funerals during which many of the victims received Buddhist rites.
The nation also began to ponder solutions to the issue of gun violence. Kritsanapong proclaimed, “We think of mass shootings as something from far away, like in the United States, but it’s now obvious that it has happened again and again, so we have to start now to protect the vulnerable groups at schools, shopping malls, universities, community halls.”
(Sources: ABC News, BBC News, CNN, New York Times)
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