Thailand is still deeply unsettled and shocked by the massacre in Korat last weekend. On Valentine’s Day, a businessman whose trade has slumped and whose wife had left him, turned to drugs and firearms to relieve his stress. He has now been charged with a range of crimes including the use and possession of drugs and attempted murder.
The arrest of a businessman, Ekachai Jaruksin, in the Pathumwan trading centre of Bangkok on Friday after he discharged up to 40 rounds from two handguns highlights the nervousness and tension in Thai society following last weekend’s brutal massacre of 29 people in Korat by an evil soldier crazed by greed.
A Bangkok businessman was released on bail on Saturday after being arrested on Friday morning following an extended shooting incident in which 40 shots were fired.
The man was released on a bond of ฿350,000 when he appeared before the Criminal Court in Bangkok where police requested an extension of his detention for 12 days as the investigation into the incident proceeds.
He was ordered by the court to stay away from firearms and not to do anything which might endanger public safety.
Incident began in the Pathumwan trading district in the early hours of Friday morning
The incident occurred in the Pathumwan area of the city near Chulalongkorn University which is a popular place for Bangkokonians to shop and buy locally made produce.
The 48-year-old man, identified as Ekachai Jaruksin, ran a sports outlet named at the Best Sports Shop.
Fired 40 shots from a window located on the third floor of the shop building due to stress
The incident began on Friday at 4 am when the stressed man began to use one of his licenced firearms to fire shots into the air at random.
Mr Ekachai told police his actions were provoked by stress. The man is reported to have fired 40 shots in all between then and 10.30 am when he surrendered following negotiations with police facilitated by his brother.
When police arrived at the scene on Friday, they discovered that the businessman was shooting from the third floor of the building that houses his shop.
They sealed off the area for the safety of the public and allowed the man’s brother in to help negotiate with him and calm him down.
Police called as reports that the man had fired shots at some individuals who came to investigate
Bangkok police were called to the scene shortly after the incident began after repeated volleys of shots caused people in the area including other traders to flee and duck for cover.
There are some reports, despite denials by the man, that he shot at some of the traders in the vicinity who had come towards his shop to find out what was going on. There are also unconfirmed reports that the man shot at a police officer.
Police threw the book at the shooter, charged for use of drugs and most seriously, attempted murder
Thai police appear to have taken a dim view of the man’s activities and the panic caused. They have charged him with illegally using a firearm in a public place, endangering the lives of others and attempted murder.
It is reported that police are satisfied, from studying the results of ballistic tests, that the man did take aim at other people during his shooting binge.
The businessman was also found to be in possession of and using narcotics including crystal methamphetamine which is now widespread in Thailand.
Police found a Glock 9mm handgun and a Colt 45 pistol with a large quantity of ammunition
Once the man surrendered to police officers, they moved into the premises and found 2 handguns or with a large quantity of ammunition.
The two handguns were reported as Glock 9mm and a Colt 45. The man had 4 handguns, in all, licenced to him.
The police also found a quantity of the crystal meths drug and paraphernalia used for imbibing illicit narcotics.
Police Lieutenant General Phukphong Phongpetra told the press on Friday that the man had used the crystal meths drug the day before the outburst.
Wife had left him over his outbursts, business slump meant some days he was lucky to sell a pair of shoes
Mr Ekachai explained to police after his arrest that he began shooting due to the pressures caused by his business and personal life.
He told officers that his business was gone so bad that some days he was lucky to only sell one pair of shoes. He insisted that he did not intend to cause anyone harm.
It is reported that the 48-year-old man’s wife had up and left him some time ago due to her fear of his violent outbursts.
Problems linked to a poor economy and drugs
The outburst of gunfire on Friday comes at a time of growing public insecurity in the kingdom caused by a wide array of problems ranging from an extremely poor economy to the coronavirus threat and an explosion of violent crime which is linked to extensive drug use.
Thailand’s increasingly polarised political situation is also contributing to the tensions in society.
Aftermath of Korat massacre – Facebook called to account by a house committee over shooter’s videos
Meanwhile, as Thailand still feels the aftermath of the massacre in Korat on Saturday 8th February, the killing in which 30 people died has brought calls for broader reform in the army and more regulation of social media.
A committee of the Thai Parliament chaired by Bhumjaithai MP Settapong Malisuwan is expected to hear from Facebook next week on measures that may be taken to curb the influence of social media and prevent the deployment of sites like Facebook by narcissistic killers such Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma who initially broadcast his attack live on the site with videos of the attack circulating worldwide accompanied by messages.
It was admitted this week by Thailand’s army chief General Apirat Kongsompong that the murderer had commenced the attacks after being mistreated by his commanding officer in a property deal.
In a statement in the last few days, a Facebook representative said: ‘Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this tragedy in Thailand. There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack.’
Social network closed the murderer’s account
The social network quickly closed the account of Sergeant Major Jakrapanth on Saturday at the height of the shooting escapade and later pulled down videos which had been shared worldwide.
During the week, the Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society claimed that it had ordered this decisive step.
Compensation to be paid to victim’s families
Also this week, the Thai government announced a compensation package of ฿1 million for each of the families of the 29 people killed by the gunman last Saturday and a smaller amount for those among the 58 people who were wounded or seriously injured.
Donations for the public to assist the families of victims were estimated at ฿68 million.