WARNING — DISTURBING CONTENT: A former police officer has murdered over 30 people, including children at a Thailand preschool, before going home and killing his wife and child.
Panya Khamrapm, a former police officer went on a knife and gun rampage at a daycare centre in in the rural town of Uthai Sawan in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nongbua Lamphu.
Before the massacre on Thursday, Khamrapm had been in court, police spokesman Paisal Luesomboon told broadcaster ThaiPBS.
He then went to the daycare centre to pick up his own child, only to find his child was not there. He then began his killing spree.
In total, he killed 34 people, including 23 children aged between two and five at the daycare centre while they slept.
"He started shooting, slashing, killing children at the Utai Sawan daycare centre," Paisal said.
Piyalak Kingkaew, an experienced emergency worker told Reuters it was a scene nobody wants to see.
"From the first step when I went in, it felt harrowing," he said.
"We've been through it before, but this incident is most harrowing because they are little kids."
Teacher dies with child in arms
One woman said Khamrapm was headed toward her as she begged for mercy, another said he did not say anything as he shot at the door while the children slept.
One witness told Thailand’s Kom Chad Luek television a teacher died with a child in her arms.
Photographs taken at the daycare centre by the rescue team and shared with Reuters showed the tiny bodies of those killed laid out on blankets.
Abandoned juice boxes were scattered across the floor.
While he did use a 9mm pistol, that he had obtained legally, Thailand's police chief said Khamrapm mainly used a knife in the massacre.
From the daycare centre, he headed home and started killing anyone he met along the way, using either his gun or knife.
Once he was home, he murdered his wife and child. Authorities surrounded Khamrapm's home and then they found he had taken his own life.
Only a few children survived the massacre at the daycare. There were about 30 children at the facility on Thursday, he also shot four or five officials before going into the room where the children were asleep.
Former cop was due in court over drug charges
The massacre is among the worst involving children killed by a single person.
In Norway, Anders Brevik killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp in 2011 while the child death toll in other cases includes 16 in Scotland in 1996 and 19 at a school in Uvalde in the US this year. Last month 11 children were killed in a school shooting in the Russian city of Izhevsk.
Mass shootings in Thailand are uncommon and the country has relatively strict gun laws. In 2020 in Nakhon Ratchasima, northwest of Bangkok, a solider killed 29 people and wounded 58 others.
Khamrapm was dismissed from the police force last year over drug allegations.
Thai police chief General Dumrongsak Kittiprapas said Khamrapm had been a sergeant in the force. The former police officer was due in court on Friday for a hearing in a case involving methamphetamine.
With Reuters and Associated Press
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