The death toll rose to 38 people, including 24 children (21 boys and 3 girls), as more shocking details and eyewitness accounts were revealed from the mass shooting at a preschool in Thailand’s northeastern province.
Armed with knives and guns, the former police officer barged into the daycare center, killing four staff members who were having lunch outside the premises. Some of the teachers tried to lock the doors but he “smashed down the door with his leg and then came inside”. He started attacking children as young as two who were fast asleep at the time of the attack. Only one child who was sleeping under a blanket is said to have survived the attack.
“He didn’t say anything, he just shot at the door while the children were sleeping. I was in shock, I did not know what to do,” said a teacher while sobbing inconsolably, one of her colleagues had died with a child in her arms.
The National Police Chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas said the ex-cop mass shooter was about to be handed a verdict for drug trafficking on Friday, just a day before he went on a killing spree. The police are not ruling out that he was stressed out regarding his upcoming court appearance or under the influence of drugs.
There were fewer children at the center on Thursday owing to heavy rainfall in the region. The teachers recognized the attacker as the father of one of the kids who went there, although he had not come to school for a month. From her previous encounters, one of them recounted him as a polite man, who was almost too chatty at times. But on Thursday, he was quiet and his eyes were crossed.
Bangkok Post reports that the assailant, 34-year-old Panya Khamrap, had returned from a court hearing earlier on Thursday and according to his mother, he had taken some narcotics which made him paranoid. He then grabbed his gun and left for the childcare center.
A police investigation has revealed that he has had a record of drug addiction and a violent temper. His fellow officers often avoided him and several instances of insubordination were also reported against him, including an assault charge by an officer who attempted to reprimand him.